Once again I sit down to write this post with our country grieving another tragedy. Once again, this time in Baton Rouge, one of our own lifelong American citizens has attacked and murdered police officers. This shooter was a former Marine. The fear deepens. The mistrust grows. The atmosphere becomes more tense, all of which, I fear, makes it more likely that other tragic shootings will occur.
How can people be brought together, to talk, to listen to one another’s stories, to understand one another’s fears and dreams, to respect one another as human beings created in the image of God? How can we recognize that “Black Lives Matter,” and, at the same time, honor and support our men and women who have dedicated themselves to law enforcement, to keeping the rest of us safe? How can we respect all peoples of varying religions and ethnicities, realizing some want to do us harm, but the vast majority doesn’t, and also remembering that not too many generations ago our own ancestors were immigrants in this land?
I wish I had fewer questions and more answers. However, I do want to remind you that we have the ultimate answer. And in times such as these, it’s good to remind ourselves. The Psalms are always a good source of honest struggle and prayer, and Psalm 46 speaks to me:
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear; though the earth should change…
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge….
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
He burns the shields with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God!...
Every Sunday we gather in worship, we hold forth another way. Whether we are affirming that Jesus taught us that all people are our neighbors, or whether we are talking about sitting at Jesus’ feet, being still, listening, learning, growing. Every worship service is a way of saying, “God is our refuge and strength…” We have an answer, and it is not in the flexing of muscle or shouting the loudest or overpowering our “enemies.” Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Last Sunday in worship we considered the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), and the call to be still, to listen, to pray. This week we read the very next passage in Luke (11:1-13), where Jesus was praying and his disciples requested of him, “Teach us to pray.” What comes next is Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer (compare Matthew 6:9-13), and then teachings on prayer. This will give us opportunity to think some more about the nature of prayer, how we pray, and what we pray for. And one of the things we will be reminded of, is this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come….”
See you Sunday where we pray for the coming Kingdom,