Sermon Archive

A Pastoral Response to This Week's Shootings (Peter Benedict & Justin Law)

A Pastoral Response to This Week’s Shootings
July 10, 2016

This week we’ve seen, again, the loss of young Black men whose lives were taken for minor infractions that got out of hand through no fault of their own. This time we lost a Minnesotan, in race-related violence that has shaken our nation. He was killed in front of his girlfriend and her child, by all accounts a gentle man who served kids for a living. We grieve every loss of life, because death is the work of God’s enemy. We especially grieve losses closest to us, losses that are the least just, losses due most particularly to the brokenness of the world. Philando Castille’s death brings the wounds of our nation home to us.

This week we also saw a mass shooting by a young man who wanted to kill someone White, preferably police officers. Police officers were gunned down because of their race and because of their uniform. We grieve the loss of men killed because they’d taken a job that for many is about protecting society, and about self-sacrifice.

These murders are being reported heavily, they’re all over our Facebook feeds, and God cares about them even more than we do. Christ died to pay the penalty for all sins, and to bring the mercy and justice of God to earth through His Kingdom. The racially driven killings of young Black man after young Black man remind us of how far the world is from the prayer request Jesus gave us: Our Father, in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus moves us to pray for an end to racism, especially the kind of racism that moves men to murder.

And the racially driven killings in Dallas remind us, again, how far we are from the answer to our prayers: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. We know, in the church, that turning the other cheek and offering forgiveness lead to victory in the end, but our hearts are heavy as so many are unable to take up the cross, turning to violence instead.

At this time Justin Law is going to lead us in a litany of lament.

This litany is a congregational, responsive prayer, intended for use in communal prayer by faith communities. It includes elements of lament and confession.

Oh God, visit us now in our mourning
Be near to us in our lament.
Blood has been shed, precious lives have been lost, evil has had its say.
Christ, have mercy.

We acknowledge the hold racism and prejudice have on our nation.
Set us free from this bondage.
We acknowledge that violence has been matched with violence, and many are in pain and distress.

Bring healing to us all.We pray now for the Church in the United States, part of the body of Christ on earth, that it may be a voice of peace,
A light of love,
Working for reconciliation and unity,
Working for justice.

We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters; all races, all skin colors, all ethnicities.
We stand against racism and injustice.
We stand for love.

For all the ways we are complicit in perpetuating racism
Forgive us, Oh God.
For all the ways we have hidden the light of Christ
Forgive us, Oh God.
For all the times we have kept silent
Forgive us, Oh God.
For all the times we have given in to fear of ridicule and retaliation
Forgive us, Oh God.
For all the ways we’ve given over to apathy
Forgive us, Oh God.
For all the ways our own prosperity has blinded us to the needs of others.
Forgive us, Oh God.

Protect the innocent Oh God!
Open the eyes of the blind!
Rout out the unjust!
Thwart the plans of the greedy and power-hungry!

May Christ, who conquered death, give us inspiration for how to move forward.
Love triumphs over hate.
May Christ, who said upon rising from the grave, “Peace be with you,” bring us into his kingdom.
Peace triumphs over violence.
May Christ, who did not retaliate but offered forgiveness, share with us his vision.
Mercy triumphs over judgement.

Lord, have mercy upon us.