We are surrounded by violence,
learning geography through tragedy:
Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Brooklyn Center, Chicago.
No place is safe.
So many lives needlessly lost in just one week —
we feel so small, so helpless in the wake of these murders.
We pray for all whose breath has been taken.
Receive them into your loving embrace.
We pray for all who grieve.
Carry them gently through the darkness.
Be their strength and ever-present help in this terrible time of trouble.
We confess this violence that surrounds us lies within us as well.
Though we measure life in years,
we take seconds to size up friend or foe.
We say we are one nation under God,
yet division is embedded in every system and every heart.
We do violence to each other
whether we carry weapons or not.
But from the margins the voices cry:
Let us reimagine
How and who and what we protect!
The lost, the least, the vulnerable —
your divine image is in all of us.
It’s a call for new creation,
for a community where swords are used only for plowing,
where spears are used only for pruning vines.
Come drain the fear that courses through our veins—
the fear that triggers our instinctual response to silence anything we perceive as a threat,
the fear of the violence that may come tomorrow,
and the next day and the day after that.
Bring your light into our darkness.
Bring your peace into our chaos.
Bring your love into our broken communities.
We ask because we know you can — because of the cross.
You held all power and yet refused to strike back.
No threat could tempt you to violence.
Through your restraint the world was reborn.
And wonder of all wonders, that same spirit that was alive in you will have its way with us if we but surrender our will to yours.
Oh God of resurrection hope, give us the strength and courage to do what you would have us do. Mold us into who you are calling us to be. And meet us in our inadequacy to make all things new. Amen.
Jen Brothers is a Presbyterian pastor living in Roanoke, Virginia