Our hearts are heavy again with another school shooting. As I write this 19 nine- to ten-year-old children and two teachers are dead, as is the 18-year who killed them. It was two days before the summer break.
Unfortunately, there have been too many occasions to pray about these mass shootings. Every time, we hope it is the last time. But here we are again. Children are dead — and this on the heels of the race-targeted shooting in Buffalo that left ten dead. The same weekend, 17 were injured in Milwaukee by gun violence. Below are prayers I’ve written regarding grief, loss, and anger.
Our prayers should also include our confession. While we may not directly cause such violence, we have not done enough to lessen it. This Prayer of Adoration and Confession addresses our lack of action in the face of suffering and injustice.
Call to Prayer
From ancient times, the Lord has gathered God’s people for prayer. Let us come before our God in both praise and penitence.
Prayer of Adoration and Confession with Zephaniah 2:3, 3:1-5
Holy God, you are the creator and enactor of justice. It is to you that we come for mercy, for we know you are faithful even when we are not. Although we have built grand cities with tall buildings and wide streets, they are still cities of sorrow. Our neighborhoods and front porches have given way to our own personal castles.
We try to wall ourselves in so that we may ignore violence, prejudice, and the suffering of others.
We have built our human institutions and systems to try and order our existence. But among those who seek to serve the common good, there are also those who seek only to serve themselves.
Too often our leaders are like roaring lions, who prey on the weak.
Too often our courts of justice are anything but, devouring the poor while letting the rich go free.
Too often even those in the church fail to tell the truth, rebranding the Gospel for their own fame.
But the LORD is still there in the city,
and he does no wrong.
Day by day he hands down justice,
and he does not fail.
But the wicked know no shame.
Spirit of Truth, open our eyes to see the lies and falseness within and around us. Teach us to speak up in the face of corruption and injustice. Take away our blindness. Break down our walls.
Seek the LORD, all you humble
of the land who practice his justice;
Maybe we will be hidden
on the day of the LORD’s anger.
I also wrote this confession, “They Are Our Children Too” in response to our lack of humanity for immigrants. The confession is also applicable to the gun violence and mental health crises.
But “thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough. The Lord knows we have offered an abundance of both but people are still dying. I encourage you to contact your members of Congress and ask (even demand) gun legislation and funding for mental health. You can find your elected officials here: https://www.congress.gov/contact-us. You can find information about gun violence in the U.S. here. And the National Alliance on Mental Health offers these resources.
May God lead us to action that we may find peace.
And a post about fear:
One Thought to “Again”
And once again the bitter tears
that we all must weep,
to hide ourselves from valid fears
that we are merely sheep
whose purpose is not to offend
those who inculcate
the platforms on which we all depend
with scorn and gleeful hate.
It’s not the guns and not the lack
of weapons strapped to teacher’s waist;
it’s just that we will not look back
at what we should have faced,
and when we should have had a care
at God kicked from the public square.
We’ve allowed America to fall victim to a secular nihilism that breeds obscenities live Uvalde, like Buffalo, like the Kenosha Christmas Parade, like the Brooklyn subway shooting. This is on everyone who’s polluted our space by sharing a cruel tweet, by posting a cynical meme on Facebook, by not standing for decency in fear of losing part of a following.
We’re all complicit, and if there is a road back, it’s gonna hurt.