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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

A Child’s Prayer of Lament

Outside Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, after a masked gunman stormed the school yesterday, killing 26.We were driving home from school yesterday when the NPR reports came on.  Another horrific mass killing.  This time at a school.  28 dead, 20 of them children.

The sound of gun shots on the school’s loudspeakers were in the background of the news report.

My six-year-old son said, “Mommy, did someone get really angry?”

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“Yes.  Someone got very mad.”

Yet another horrific incident of mass violence in our nation has left us looking for explanations.  First, our need for the facts.  What happened? What could explain a young man’s rage as it manifested itself in yesterday’s senseless violence?

Then, our need for a cause- a scapegoat.

Gun laws have to change.

A culture that glorifies violence needs correction.

Our mental healthcare system requires more investment.

God, for goodness’ sake, could be doing a better job of policing our schools.

If truth be told, the “sin” is on all of our hands.

And so this morning, I am left, in the face of no real explanation, and no sufficient scapegoat other than the One in whose name God tells us to pray, to do just this- to pray:

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Heavenly Father, you say we can call you “Abba,” “Father.”  So we dare to.  At Christmas you come to us as a tender child who would lead us.  A baby.  Jesus.  Yet you have let precious children die.  You have let this horror happen.  For those of us who cannot understand your ways- and they are high- help us to find you in this tragedy.

And forgive us, as a people who have let this happen.  Forgive the young man who did not know what he was doing.  Forgive his family.  Forgive our country, for lax gun laws, and a culture that glorifies violence and then appears shocked when it actually happens off our movie screens.  Forgive our inability to stop our business to care for those who need help.  Forgive us.  

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And help us, Father.  Help us have courage to do the right thing now- to minister to those whose lives have been senselessly torn apart, and to work for sensible gun laws despite the politics, and to disavow the ugliness in our culture.  Help us to begin, in our own families, to love well.  To love  even when it’s inconvenient or requires a setting aside of our own agendas.  Help us to care for the vulnerable spark of the Divine in each one of us, like we would a tender baby.  Gently. Kindly.  With great care.  Help us to trust that your ways, when we cannot understand them, will work themselves out even in this inexplainable and unfathomable pain.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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