I was preaching in a wonderful Brethren congregation here in Vancouver yesterday morning when word spread about the awful violence in a nightclub in Florida. Nearly 50 people murdered and another 50 injured. The worst mass murder shooting in America – so far. The Elder leading prayers said what we were all thinking – that our hearts break at the news of violence, that we recoil when we hear of a human being with such hatred for other human beings, that we long for a day promised in Scripture when God triumphs for good over evil and when the good work that the Father began in raising the Son from the dead will be completed by the Spirit’s power in consummation. Come, Lord Jesus Come.
This morning the Moderator of the 142nd General Assembly, Rev. Douglas Rollwage, offered this prayer on the national Presbyterian Church website:
A Prayer in a Time of Violence
Eternal God of loving-kindness,
you hold all situations and souls in your hands;
you are our only hope and comfort in life and in death, and
you are the one to whom we turn in times of trouble.
You sent Christ into the world
that we might have life
and have it abundantly;
he came as the Prince of Peace
to a world that is too often violent and marked by tragedy.
In the face of violence in Orlando and against people in the LGBTQ community,
we come to you in sorrow
for those whose lives are cut short or forever changed;
we come to you in frustration and anger
because of the violence in this world;
we come to you in confession
for we have been too often silent
when we should have spoken up against hatred and bigotry
and too often we have tolerated violence that breaks your heart.
We pray that you
watch over those who are in danger,
comfort those who fear for themselves or loved ones,
gather into your loving arms those who die,
give us wisdom to be voices of peace in moments and places of hatred and fear;
give us courage to be a force for positive change in our communities, workplaces and churches.
In the name of Jesus, in whom all is reconciled;
let understanding overcome vengeance;
let peace overcome violence;
let kindness overcome hatred and suspicion.
And in your grace, let us see the day when guns and all weapons that destroy life
are transformed into instruments of peace and healing.
In the strong name of Jesus, we pray;
Ross Lockhart is Associate Professor at St. Andrew’s Hall, UBC and Director of the Centre for Missional Leadership.