My heart has been heavily burdened this week since the news of the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The burden increased as responses shifted from concern for the people to politics and gun laws and domestic abuse statistics and the state of mental health reform in the United States. Certainly, all of these discussions are important, but they miss the point and too quickly shift our attention from the horror and pain of the act itself. For me, my heart breaks for the loss of innocent life, the desecration of a sacred space, and the brokenness of a world where violence is quickly becoming the default solution to all our disillusions and discontents. We need a Savior.
So, I offer a prayer, and I implore all my sisters and brothers to join me in prayer:
Healing Light, Healing Lord,
Be with us. Be with the victims of the shooting in your House in Sutherland Springs. Receive those who died into your glory and grant them an everlasting peace. Be with those who were injured and grant them a peace that was taken from them. For those present who survived, may you restore to them a sense of safety and security that they may never otherwise feel. For the family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones of First Baptist Church, hold them in your loving arms and remind them that violence and destruction never has the final word. For the whole family of God, encourage us and raise us above fear, anxiety, outrage, and a desire for vengeance. Help us know that violence is never the way to peace; and that weapons aimed at humans never build up, but always destroy.
Gracious Lord, in a world where there is so much despair, let us never grow weary as we strive for peace. Forgive us for the many ways we fail to be kind, caring, gentle and merciful. And help us to forgive those for whom life becomes so terrible that they see no other way forward but to destroy their brothers and sisters.
Please, Lord, do not allow us to be distracted by issues and debates, by battles and politics, when human lives are at stake. Fill us with compassion. Displace anger and fear with mercy and grace. Let us not dwell on the hopelessness of the problem, but invite the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to find a solution. Heal our broken world, and use us as agents of restoration, salvation, and love.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).