We all grieve the horror and sadness of the weekend’s mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso. We look for ways to understand the motives or ways to blame the actions of those who cause senseless violence and trauma. We wonder how we have come to a place in our country where shopping or socializing can get you shot down. Many of us ask what we can do or how should we pray when we feel so helpless and hopeless to learn of all of the suffering. And, we will come to different conclusions on how God calls us to respond. As the church of Jesus Christ, we lament the loss of life, and we speak out against all forms of injustice and hatred. We cling to scripture like Psalm 34.1: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.” And, some of us will organize into actions of compassion and justice as we feel led by God’s Spirit.
As members of the Presbyterian Church (USA), we also join with our larger church in prayer and action. You can look for ways to volunteer with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance or the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness which provides public policy information and opportunities to advocate about social witness perspectives and policies (they have an email subscription that provides social action alerts, for example). Also, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has toolkits and resources available about nonviolence, including this article, "Be Careful What You Pray For”. You can click here to read an article from the New York Times about a newly installed Minister of Gun Violence, the Rev. Deanna Hollas, who resides in Richardson, within the bounds of Grace Presbytery.
You can contact the Tres Rios Presbytery for ways to connect with congregations in El Paso who need our encouragement and prayers. And, below is a prayer written by the editor of the Presbyterian Outlook, the Rev. Jill Duffield, that you can pray.
Enough, Lord God, enough. Rend our hearts and restore your goodness and mercy in our land. Through you, all things are possible, and yet we fail to claim your power to transform chaos into order, war into peace, and anger into action. We pray yet again, Lord God, yet again for your children cut down in a hail of gunfire, for families devastated, communities decimated, our country reeling from self-inflicted wounds of hate. We beg your forgiveness for our unwillingness to address the soul-sickness of our nation, the idolatry of guns and our infatuation with violence and anger and hatred. Comfort those who mourn. Heal the hurting. Strengthen the helpers. Grant courage to your people that we may not just say enough, but do all we can and everything required to stop the killing in our streets. Amen.
In our own community, last night people gathered outside Fort Worth City Hall for a vigil, and this evening Tarrant Churches Together will host a "candlelight vigil to honor the lives lost and families impacted by the recent domestic terrorist attacks that have created deep wounds in our communities. The vigil will be held at Parque Unidad/Unity Park, Wednesday August 7 at 8 p.m, 4001 Townsend Dr. Fort Worth, TX 76110. Candles will be provided. We will also have therapists on site to help our community with needed healing and mental health support." Tarrant Churches Together also provides this link for the El Paso Victim's Fund.
In whatever way you pray and act, peace be with you,