The numbers: A pastoral prayer

355 mass shootings in 336 days. When will the terror stop, O Lord?

Schools, movie theatres, clinics, public streets, sanctuaries, government agencies, is there no place to escape the threat of senseless violence? Why is our country’s unique distinction one of body counts and bullets?

Pronouncements of thoughts and prayers have become hollow stand-ins for meaningful action, held up as one more piece of evidence presented to convict us of irrelevance, hypocrisy and impotence.

Lord, give us the courage to live in ways that refute the claims of those who say we don’t practice what we preach, walk our talk, or follow in the footsteps of our servant Lord.

Pour out your Holy Spirit in ways that illumine us with the light of Christ that no darkness can overcome.

Make the waters of our baptism overflow through us into the world until deserts of despair are transformed into streams of living water.

In the 28 days left of 2015, empower us to make a difference. Show us, Lord of all, how to make tally marks of grace, running totals of mercy, trackers of kindness, and headlines of love freely given.

As your witnesses, may the record show that we went out into the world in peace, with courage, holding on to what was good, returning no one evil for evil as we strengthened the fainthearted, supported the weak and helped the suffering. May the court transcript read that we honored all people as we loved and served you, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

If this is not our testimony, our thoughts and our prayers will convict us. Amen.