Our minds strain to fathom the enormity of the worst mass-shooting in American history. To our horror, that already was a ghastly, bloody high bar. And yet a gunman peered down from a hotel room, aimed at fellow human beings created in your image, and scaled it. One pierced, broken life at a time.
Our spirits ache as we struggle to comprehend the breadth and depth of the pain. We realize the number of lives extinguished will increase as the river of afflicted flows into the sea of slaughtered. We grieve for the dead, as well as for the pain the injured endure now and will endure across the months and years ahead. We suffer alongside their friends and family, who reel, not from the enormity of the numbers, but because their anguish bears a name and a face and a holy space in their lives.
Our souls stagger and stumble when we realize this happened. Again. Once, a gunman in a tower in Austin seemed like an aberration. Now, as too often before, we receive other names — shooter, victims, Vegas — in shamefully long litanies of violence and destruction.
We plead on behalf of the injured. Please, we pray, deliver healing. Watch over them. Guide their caregivers. Bless and bind their wounds. And rain down the peace that surpasses all understanding upon them and upon those who love them.
We plead on behalf of those whose loved ones perished. May your presence be as near to them as their next breaths, as tangible as the memory of the voices they will hear no more. Bind their souls. Flood their minds with sweet memories. Give them hope.
We ask your forgiveness, Lord. In moments like these, we fail to see the connection between our sins and the heinous atrocity inflicted by a 32nd-floor sniper, and yet we know we are sinners. So, we ask your forgiveness for the hate in our own hearts, which contributes to a hate-full society, even when we fail to see the part we play.
In the face of such horror, God, we still believe in miracles. And so we beseech you to make this stop. Let us live in a land where atrocity fades to memory but never again arises to reality.
- Give us wisdom and trust to enact and enforce laws that protect freedom while restraining the capacity of evildoers to do evil.
- Deliver us from a culture of extremism and exclusion, so that hate and objectification cease.
- And grant us compassion, empathy and insight. Show us the plight of those we may call “monster.” Lead us to greet them with love and kindness, so that the power of your transforming grace is let loose in their lives, and they rain down love, not bullets.
Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy. Amen.
Marv Knox serves as the field coordinator for Fellowship Southwest, a new regional network that supplements the work of CBF of Texas, CBF of Oklahoma and CBF West.