Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Pentecost 25
November 15, 2015
Reflect upon what you have been commanded, for what is hidden is not your concern. (Ecclesiasticus 3:22, NRSV)
I am conflicted. Too many thoughts and realities colliding inside my head. Because there is plenty of empty space between my ears, it feels like a cacophony in my skull. I am angry at the random acts of violence … I hear the call of God to forgive my enemies … I ask myself why I am so struck by the fate of people I don’t even know … I am fatigued that this is not a solitary event, but one that will spawn clones all over the world … I question myself as to how I can forgive that act for which no one has repented … I am frustrated by the ridiculous pieces of simplistic advice flooding social media … I am humbled by those who jeopardized their own lives to restore order … I am struck dumb by what seems to me to be crazily misplaced priorities … I am silenced by the complex nuances of such an event … and I am overwhelmed to think that what has transpired in Paris, has to a similar degree occurred this year in Nigeria and Turkey and Cameroon and Yemen and Egypt and Kenya and Syria and Iraq… and other places I no longer remember.
What is one to do in the face of yet another terrorist act on the world stage, this time in Paris. What does one pray for?
- Comfort … for families facing the traumatic death of loved ones?
- Healing … for persons who somehow dodged enough of the violence to survive, while watching friends and loved ones die at their side? Of course.
- Peace … for a world gone mad? Sure, but I’m not sure I have any realistic hope for such a peace to descend upon us.
- Vengeance … because my anger screams for release? No, that is my own sin craving for a simplistic and visceral release.
- Justice … because I think that is what I am expected to pray for? I guess, but I cannot begin to tell you what it looks like.
- God’s will be done … ? What can that possibly mean here?
- Dare I pray for a resolution for my confliction? Why not, even though I know there is no such simplistic answer in a terrifyingly complex world.
So instead, I will take the advice of the wisdom writer of Ecclesiasticus. I will reflect upon what God has commanded me to do … observe the commandments, give to the poor, love God, love neighbor, be a witness, serve. I will try to honor the hidden mind and will of God, and trust that God knows and acts. And I will ask you to pray … with me … for those facing terrorism of many sorts … for yourself and for me, that we might be voices of faith and reason.
God of mystery and power, as life feels hopeless, I will ask for strength to hope in you. You died to give us hope. Eternally, so we can await the Kingdom of God. But also in the moment, as you provide a way for us to live through the cares of this world. Remind me of this gift regularly, through your Word and your Spirit, which live in us—in me—as your child and follower. Amen.