Several folks have asked for the prayer I prayed last Sunday after the Parkland massacre. Are any words adequate? I don't think so. But here's an effort I hope helps.
Pastoral Prayer, kyle matthews, first baptist greenville 2/18/18
O God, we need you this day. We gather here from the gamut of life experiences
some of us exalting in the beauty of this day and the many blessings we enjoy
others of us come so low, so burdened, so worried, so grief-stricken we could barely dress ourselves.
But we come with one voice of thanksgiving that we are yours, that you love each of us,
and that there is no circumstance where you are not present and at work…
…even in Parkland, Florida, where, in the wake of yet another horrendous and pointless explosion of violence
your people are crying out “how long, O God?”
As others react in their way, guide your church first toward empathy for those most directly and personally affected.
Be close to those families in abject grief this morning, and help us be unafraid to feel pain along with them.
And move us from a sense of helplessness to a greater sense of responsibility as your people.
Show us again that we cannot expect peace where we persist in
isolating ourselves, stigmatizing and marginalizing mental illness
and turning a deaf ear to the cries for help of those around us
Convict us that we cannot expect things to get better
when we participate in the celebration of violence as entertainment
guns as toys, and vengeance as a solution, if not a salvation.
Forgive us, O God, for spending more effort
protecting our rights than we spend protecting our children
and for so quickly hurling blame as we shirk our responsibility for troubled persons
you have so clearly called us to love and care for.
And heal us of the delusion of thinking that because we never hit anybody
we haven’t damaged one another
Expose our own verbal violence, our weaponized words and emotional blackmail…
Remind us that the first victims are those closest to us
And that we cannot harm others without harming ourselves.
We come to you this hour under the conviction that worship
is the cure for all our violence,
worship that centers our lives on you, so that we can be centered and calm
mindful that all things are yours, grateful for what we have,
capable of forgiveness and release.
And send us from this place full of the courage of knowing there is no danger
that we cannot face in your name,
and that you go ahead of us to work your will in the world.
Send us with the knowledge that when we casually ask, “how are you?”
the answer might hold existential importance,
And that being your open-eyed, open-eared, open-hearted,
and ever-vigilant people
might be a matter of life and death.