On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, America was stunned by yet another mass shooting at a public high school. Near the end of their school day, the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were the tragic victims of a violent gunman. In the end, 17 people were killed, with over a dozen others wounded and countless others emotionally traumatized. The majority of those who lost their lives were students.
At the Justice Conference, one of our core principles is peacemaking. Jesus himself declares in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” We believe that Christ calls His followers to seek the peace of their communities and cities, following His example of non-violence. This responsibility means that acts of violence such as the shooting in Parkland should deeply grieve Christ-followers. We should never be comfortable with the inevitability of violence. These acts harm real people and shatter real families, created in the Image of God. In a world filled with chaos and confusion, we believe that the call for the church in this time is lament.
In his book Prophetic Lament, scholar and Justice Conference speaker Soong Chan-Rah defines the practice by saying, “lament in the Bible is a liturgical response to the reality of suffering and engages God in the context of pain and trouble. The hope of lament is that God would respond to human suffering.” In these tragic times, we must cultivate the discipline of crying out to God for both comfort and courage. We should be comforted by the hope of our Lord’s promise that He will make all things new. Yet, we must also be courageous in practically co-laboring with Him in this mission and refusing to succumb to sinful apathy. Join us as we lament…
Remember, Lord, what happened to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; turn your eyes toward their bodies.
Remember the families who will be without sons and daughters, the households who have lost sisters and brothers.
O Lord, the students of this high school and their community need you. Comfort them in their time of trauma and confusion. Lives have forever been altered.
The city of Parkland needs you, Lord. They are the victims of terrorist actions, filled with hatred and fear.
We, as a people, have grown too accustomed to these attacks. We have been desensitized to the plague of gun violence in our nation.
Even in the church, God, we have ignored your command to be peacemakers and accepted the inevitability of violence.
Convict us for our apathy. Save us from our indifference.
Give our nation a moral conscience to confront habits that have made us complicit to tragedies like this one.
Give the church the boldness to speak to our leaders about what must be done to end violence.
You have promised to make “all things new”. May this promise begin with us.