The tragedy last night in Paris has brought violence back to the news. The car bombing in which 45 people died in Beirut echoes violence. The on-going state of alert at Howard University in Washington, D. C. because of threats of violence to that historically black university must not be lost in the midst of the international terrorism. All of these echo the acts of violence that continue to occur here in Buffalo and Western New York.
I have learned from all the tragic events of the past, that the living goodness of God has been working in us all, despite all of our failures and weaknesses, preparing us in ways that we have not imagined for the work that is thrust upon us.
Part of our response is to join in prayer, to bring before God these tragedies, and ask for God’s grace to dwell in us as we face them. Here is a prayer that personally I treasure, found in HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN, that helps me at such moments:
“Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember in these days those who endure depredation and death because of who they are, not because of what they have done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.”
In the Gospel reading from the Gospel of Mark, that will be heard by Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists and many others as we gather tomorrow, Jesus says, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed …” Jesus tells us over and over again not to be afraid. That is the message for us all, we must not let fear drive our actions. We must not be afraid of each other, we must not be afraid of the differences between us.
No matter where our ancestors came from, no matter what name we use for the God we worship, no matter where we grew up, or where we live now: We must join together and stand against hatred and oppression. It is only in rejecting fear and embracing love that we can stand against those who would use fear and hatred in the name of God to divide us.
My prayers and the prayers of the Diocese of Western New York are with the people of Paris, with the people of Beirut, with the community of Howard University and with those people in Buffalo that are scarred by the violence in our city.