It has been a difficult week for anyone who lives from a place of compassion. For people of faith who believe in a kind and loving God and who may recently have celebrated the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, the tragedies have seemed endless.
Horror in Boston, devastation in Texas, decisions around gun violence grounded in elections rather than protection and made blasphemously in the shadow of the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, poisoned letters in lieu of civil discourse.
While the plant explosion near Waco appears to have been an accident, in every other case someone or someones made a choice impossible to reconcile with a call to love one another. I am convinced that good can come from the most painful circumstances, but under the cumulative weight of this week, that resilience is depleted.
Just four months ago, when 26 innocents were lost in their Connecticut classrooms, we appeared to recommit ourselves as a nation to doing what was right rather than what was politically expedient. Now too many people in power – not even a majority, but still too many – have forgotten how awful those days were, how awful every day is for anyone who loses a loved one to gun violence. Difficult for those of us who do remember and continue to mourn.
In the face of violence, destruction, and political pandering, we must remember to be actively peaceful and compassionate, adding our voices to the call for new and better laws; for civil disagreement; for protection, assistance, prayers and practical support when they are needed.
The Psalm appointed for this Sunday is one of the Bible’s great comforters, the 23rd. As we read and reflect on it, let us remember that there were people this week who did courageous, compassionate, inspiring things – rushing into chaos to save others; reaching across the political divide to do what was right; speaking up and out so that their voices would be heard over the sounds of explosions, sirens, and the wails of grief.
Do not let those who act from anger or fear overtake those who did what was right or those of us who must work that much harder now for peace.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
—Aleta Payne, Development and Communications
Worship Resources on Peace in the Midst of Violence
- Blessed are the Merciful (Mel Williams)
- Jesus is Our Peace (Sam Wells)
- Beholding the New Creation (Stephen Shoemaker)
- Waging Peace (Amy Jacks Dean)
- A Missing Peace in the World (Edward Stallworth)
Worship Resources (Lectionary-Based Prayers, Reflections, etc.)