I went to church yesterday. In the midst of the chaos of the world, large and small, it seemed like the best place to be.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookfield has a Eucharist every Wednesday morning. The music for that service is provided by a little praise band, and one of the songs we sang yesterday might be familiar to you: “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.”
I have always enjoyed this song’s melody and message, but yesterday amid the pain and grief and upsetness – which was palpable in that sanctuary by the way; our neighbors feel for us – some of the lines struck me:
Now let the weak say “I am strong,”
Let the poor say “I am rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us.
Following a horror like the massacre in Texas, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless. We know shootings like this have to end; we don’t know how or when they WILL end; we doubt we have the means to make them end. There were moments after the shooting was reported that I wanted to hide under the covers; other moments when I wanted to pick up the phone and yell at someone.
When I feel weak and powerless, I don’t know what to do.
But this song reminded me that though I feel weak, I am strong because of what God does within me. If my faith doesn’t prepare me for tough times, then what does it prepare me for?
We have power, even now amid these terrible crises.
We have the power to pray.
While it is true that the phrase “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” can be glib and meaningless in the face of tragedy, especially tragedy that keeps repeating itself, there is tremendous meaning and power and grace that channels through us when we get on our knees and pray for the brokenness of the world and those broken.
Please do not stop praying – for the victims of the Texas shooting, for all those impacted by gun violence, for our leaders, for first responders, for ourselves – that we do not give in to fear or unbridled anger or a sense of helplessness.
Because we also have the power to act.
It can be hard to keep going when nothing seems to change but while we have breath we have the power to talk with others, to write letters, to assemble peacefully, to make our voice heard.
And most importantly we have the power through prayer and action to make sure the issue of gun violence does not get swept under the rug yet again when a “bigger” story takes over.
We can urge our leaders not to move on to other issues until they have worked out some practical solutions to this horrible plague.
We can remember that though the issue is huge and we may feel small, we are not weak, but strong.
We can keep the faith.