Memorial Day Grief

Sunday Psalm: A Prayer Against Violence and Call to Act with Grace

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I do not believe in pitting prayer against action. Prayer is not passive. Prayer is entering into the presence of the Almighty, Active God who calls us to be emissaries of his peace. Action is always most powerful when in response to and combined with prayer. Jesus prayed then gave his life on the cross. If we want to deter the violence in our world we must pray and then give our lives to the work of peace: treating outsiders with dignity, passing red flag laws on gun purchases, promoting mental health, trusting God more than guns, and trusting God more than governments, praying and acting with grace to end violence as much as humanly possible.

This is a prayer I wrote and published in March 2021 as A Prayer Against Violence: An Honest Conversation with God. Unfortunately we need to renew it. I’ve made several edits.

Jesus Against Violence

O Redeemer:

Our hearts bleed

And eyes flood with grief.

We cry out for justice,

Answers, comfort,

Redemption, and relief.

Bullets once again

Have weaponized 

What we strain

Yet fail to name.

Was it fear, depression, brokenness,

Hate, doubt, blame,

Revenge, racism, sickness, or fame?

Or all these rolled together 

In a bomb-like ball

That detonated in this man

And stole many innocent lives all.

Grief weighs on grief.

Like layers of skin

We cannot sluff off.

Why, how, what 

Can we do?

Shake our fists at you?

Anger, fear, blame,

And doubt overwhelm us. 

One man wearing a tactical vest 

Covering a tarnished image of you

Violated many others

Created in your image too.

It makes no sense!

Their voices, insights,

Questions, peculiarities,

Contributions, tears, seed,

Wisdom, laughter, and need

He tried to erase.

But, God, 

Your memory and love of them

And ours are longer than this shadow 

Of death can reach.

Redeem their loss, God of justice.

Make our backs strong 

To bear this pain

And to move in your power

To keep it from happening again.

How could he believe

Taking life

Is anyway to receive?

And how often do we

Live in that same place?

Hear us, O Lord,

To those near to these children,

And those not,

Walk beside, before, and after,

Comfort, speak, and listen.

Deliver justice and redemption

Once more

The way you did

That day

You transformed

Death to life, hate to love,

Converting violence 

On a tortuous cross

Into a gleaming symbol

Of forgiveness and grace.

Transform this tragedy

Not only in our souls

But bodily.

Embolden and empower us

To use your love

To tear down hate, despair, and violence.

Amen

How to Do More than Just Pray to Change the World: A Maundy Thursday Reflection and Is There More You Can Do When You Can’t Do Enough? may help you in this difficult time.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Psalm: A Prayer Against Violence and Call to Act with Grace”

  1. Red flag laws are open for abuse by both governments and private parties, where the accused is guilty until proven innocent (guns are typically taken pending a hearing). I submit that not every evil requires or will be deterred by yet another law or series of laws.

    The most effective (and Constitutional) things we can do is arm and train teachers, provide law enforcement presence at schools, and secure physical access points. We have armed personnel at banks, on aircraft, and at SCHOOL BOARD meetings. Why not have them at the school itself? Certainly we value our children more than our money, and, hopefully, even our own lives.

    1. Tim: Thanks for reading and commenting. You make a good point about red flag laws. Do you think the David French article I linked addressed your thoughts? My struggle is that we have too often failed protecting the rights of blacks and other minorities from abuse of well-intentioned laws. Will we be able to protect those in the red flag category?

      I think, unfortunately, it is time to devise better more aggressive security for schools. I don’t think arming teachers, even trained teachers, is feasible or desirable, however.

      I hope you found the prayer meaningful.

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