Tonight I had the privilege of participating in a worship concert benefit for Newtown, CT. hosted by my church in partnership with many local churches & organizations. It was a great night of worship and unity in our community. My part was the prayer of “lament” at the front of the event. This is what I prepared – and are really my thoughts and prayer for those in Newtown and for our community:
When Tim began the conversation of putting together this evening, I immediately felt that this wasn’t just a good idea – it was the right idea. This is what the Church is for – we are a light in a dark place, a constant in an ever-changing world, and a place that stands together when things are seemingly falling apart. Tonight we stand together in the face of darkness and doubt and hopelessness – and in standing, together, we help one another – we help our community – we help our world…
Sometimes I think in a fast-paced world overloaded with media and communication we can move too quickly past the pain, the doubt and the uncertainty that we experience when a tragedy such as what happened on the morning of December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Where 20 children and 6 adults lost their lives and the cause of it all took his own life. We can’t help but ask questions like: “where was God in all this?”, “how could He allow this to happen?”, “how can any good possibly come from this?”
I’m not here to try and answer those questions. But I do want to in a very real way – give us all permission to ask those questions tonight. Part of tonight is just for that. It is to grieve: to allow our hearts to be soft and open. To think of those innocent children, those teachers and administrators and weep. To imagine the lives of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, and first responders whose lives are now forever changed. To look at ourselves, our families and our own community and reflect on how this event has changed us. To take time to reflect on all this and look to God.
Psalm 130 begins, “From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer”.
Father – that’s where many of us find ourselves tonight when we reflect on the recent event in Newtown, CT. We grieve together. Our hearts break when we think of the lives lost – the lives of the truly innocent. Our minds wrestle with the evil that visited that school and the darkness that persists in this world. Sometimes we just don’t understand, or have the answers – we find ourselves not even knowing what or how to pray.
We ask for comfort tonight.
For comfort that only your Spirit can offer for the families of those who were at Sandy Hook that day. For lives lost, for lives laid down willingly, for lives that are now forever changed. You are the great comforter and ask believing that you are already at work in Newtown and surrounding communities.
We ask for healing.
So many lives have been torn apart. So much sadness and anger. Only you can bring true healing to Newtown and to our world. We pray that families will stay strong through their grieving. We pray that the community will come out of this tragedy with more love for one another and a love for You. We look with anticipation to the day when you right every wrong, when you’re Kindom truly comes on Earth as it is in Heaven.
We ask for faith.
We know that through Christ, we have been given all things – and that our faith is very real and secure. But in times like these when our faith is challenged, we feel weak and sometimes far from you. Even though we may be weak tonight, remind us that it is when we are weak that You are strong. Remind us tonight of your faithfulness and our position in Christ: redeemed, forgiven, righteous, sons and daughters of your Kingdom.
As we stand together tonight, may we have the strength to grieve together, to sing together, to hope together, and to be encouraged in the face of darkness to be the light – that by your Spirit we would be a stronghold of faith, justice and mercy.