God’s heart was the first to break – when one young man decided to pull the trigger and when his victims began to fall. Now a nation is in shock and grief. We are reminded again how fleeting is life and how enduring the patterns of human nature, both for good and for harm. A US Representative known for her openness, kindness, and care; a child at the very budding of her incredible promise; a deacon and pillar of his local congregation putting his own body between his wife and the shooter . . . In all 20 persons dead or wounded by one very broken young man. In times like these people of faith turn to God who made us, who loves us still, and we ask, “Why?”
It’s still too early to have a clear picture of why. Perhaps it has to do with the general tenor of political discourse where, as Jim Wallis said to me, “We find it too easy to say ‘I’m right and you’re evil.’” Perhaps there was a particular bent reason in the mind of this young man that pushed him to this specific timing and target. Some will certainly argue that the fault lies with him alone. Others will look more to the societal context that may have given rise to this awful event. There is surely some truth to both perspectives.
In the meantime, as we wait for more information, as we struggle to understand, we pray:
prayers of praise to God who intends that life would be good and who walks closely with us when it is not;
prayers of confession of our own tendency to vilify our enemies and to fear those we do not understand;
prayers of petition for healing for those wounded in the attack, for the families and friends of those who have died, for the family of the man who shot them – and for him;
prayers for our leaders – spiritual and political – that they will have clear minds and pure hearts, leading the way in cleansing our national political dialogue of hatred, disrespect, and personal attack.
And we act – as Body of Christ and individually members of it – remembering that each time we rise from the Lord’s Table we have been reconstituted and recommissioned as Body of Christ for the world. As Body of Christ we attempt to hear one another in respect, and to work with one another to solve the problems that vex us – to be a movement for wholeness. As Body of Christ we seek to reveal the Reign of God at hand, working for justice, peace and care for all our neighbors. As Body of Christ we look upon each one of those neighbors, those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree, and see on each face the image of God. In this heartbreaking time, let us act in keeping with that image also revealed in us. In God’s image, let us be a movement for wholeness and healing and hope.