Many of us woke up on Monday morning to the news that over 70 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Pakistan hospital. Upon hearing this, we can't help but wonder why such death and injustice seem to be plaguing our world, why people's lives are being robbed from them.
It certainly isn't the vision that Christ has for our world. He speaks of peace and humility and servanthood. But yet we live in a place that is scarred with all that can go so terribly wrong with humanity. How are we to respond?
To start, we can pray, along with the Church:
Compassionate God and Father of all,
we are horrified at violence
in so many parts of the world.
It seems that none are safe, and some are terrified.
Hold back the hands that kill and maim;
turn around the hearts that hate.
Grant instead your strong Spirit of Peace -
peace that passes our understanding
but changes lives,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
-- The Church Of England, Common Worship
And we can center ourselves upon one single word that we have found repeated in the Gospels for the last two weeks: give.
Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit. And he gives us the Kingdom.
Amidst all that is laid waste in the world around us and through all the loneliness and insecurity and pain that lies within our own hearts, we can hear the words of Jesus promising to give us that which we so desperately need.
He gives us his presence. He holds us, and he stays close to us through it all, until the end. And he calls us into a new reality in which we know love and healing and in which we have an identity that no person or circumstance can take away. As we draw closer to God together -- through worship and prayer and service -- we are shaped as a community of people that freely receives what God loves to give us, and we are made to be a light to the world, a witness to the Present One who is establishing a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
In our homes, our places of work, our classrooms, and wherever we find ourselves.... Jesus constantly invites us to receive all that he longs to give us.
So as we live in our world, holding the hurt and pain that so many people feel, and as we come ever closer to the one who holds it all and who works through us to redeem all things, we can pray with the Church...
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
look favourably on your whole Church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery,
and by the tranquil operation of your perpetual providence
carry out the work of our salvation:
and let the whole world feel and see
that things which were cast down are being raised up
and things which had grown old are being made new
and that all things are returning to perfection
through him from whom they took their origin,
even Jesus Christ our Lord.
-- Gelasian Sacramentary
Peace to you,