posted Monday through Friday
I woke up early Sunday a week ago to prepare myself for the morning’s activities, centered around worship and gathering with the community of faith who I am blessed to pastor. Out of habit, I glanced at the news feed on my phone and was quickly made aware of the horrors that had taken place, just hours before, in a Colorado Springs nightclub. Five were dead, many more were wounded, another mass shooting, another attack on the LGBTQ community.
The appointed text for that day was from the prophet Isaiah and a vision for God’s world that has swords being beaten into plowshares. We were to host a pastoral colleague and the leader of the Synod’s task force on gun violence prevention. We were supposed to be hearing words of hope but being confronted with yet another example of the evils of a gun-obsessed culture, all I could think about was how hopeless it all still feels.
Then I found a companion last week in another ancient prophet, who put words to this hopelessness. Habakkuk’s appeal to God offers an echo of the same despair I am feeling as I write this, as I learn of yet another shooting, this one in a Virginia Walmart. Joining with Habakkuk, I raise my cries to anyone who will listen…
Oh my God! How many more die each day,
and the best you can do is send your thoughts and prayers?
We shout, “it’s the guns, too many and too easy to get!”
and still you sit on your hands, not making any changes?
Why does my news feed have to be filled with make-shift memorials
and I have to watch family members cry their eyes out?
Fetishized brutality and glorified freedoms are on parade;
but they only heighten my anxiety and raise my temperature.
The laws we have are obviously too weak to do any real good,
there is no justice for those who want to live in peace.
The gun-obsessed control the story fed to them by the profit-hungry;
we have abdicated all perspective on what is right.My translation of Habakkuk 1:2-4
The prophet Habakkuk found a way to hear a word of hope from God. I’m still waiting.
May God’s hope find a way through this day. -Pastor Peter
Let us pray…
God, we cry to you, and we hope you are listening. Bring your presence among us so that it might comfort those who mourn who shouldn’t have to and change the hearts and minds of the stubborn who don’t need to be. Amen.
Perhaps it’s fitting that as we shift our gaze from abundant harvests and gratitude-steeped Thanksgiving tables towards the darkening winter and frenetic preparations for the end of the year, we call today “Black Friday.” For retailers eager to stem the flow of red ink, seeing the bottom line turn black is a most welcome change. For the rest of us, shorter days conspires against longer to-do lists and the mood can turn dark rather quickly.
I am honored that my picture book will have a place in our Thanksgiving Eve Service tonight. I thought I’d tell you a bit about how this book came to be….
Our middle school youth group, God Rocks, made the “table runner” pictured above. On a riff of Praying in Color, we put a simple, “God, you hear our prayer….” In the middle and then I led them a guided meditation on things they might be thankful for. Together we drew and doodled and connected our prayers with a variety of colors and designs.