As I ponder the recent terrorist attacks and contemplate the hope that Thanksgiving represents, I find myself thinking (again) about how we view ourselves, others, and our world. How do we break down the barriers that divide us and learn to really hear what others say, feel, believe, and think? How do we face the challenges that rock our world in a way that shines God’s light rather than blocks it? Where do we find hope in the midst of chaos and destruction?
Although those questions are BIG and impossible to answer in one blog, I’ve discovered some articles that I believe point us in the right direction. I pray these articles will spark your desire to step outside of your boundaries too. I pray that God will give us the creativity, passion, and compassion to build bridges instead of walls between us and others. That’s the only way our world can survive…thrive…and find hope.
“I was standing there in the line with passport in hand on a Friday afternoon in the busiest airport on the entire planet, looking into weathered and young and searching eyes of a torrent of passing people, and I was falling head over broken heart in love all over again with teeming, beautiful humanity. That you can find beautiful people wherever you seek to see beauty. That I believed that we know the last line of this cosmic story and His beauty saves…
Then I stepped through security.
And the world blew up.”
“Fear and dread are a ruthless duo. They take no prisoners. They respect no boundaries. They eat faith, hope, and love for lunch. They make us forget who we are, and more importantly, who God is. I remember what it was like to be under their spell when I went through a prolonged period of tribulation a little over a year ago. They engulfed me like a toxic fog for several days and threatened to suffocate me.
Entire populations can fall under their spell too. The attacks in Paris a few days ago have triggered our collective PTSD from 9/11.”
“The Islamist extremist worldview says that we’re separate, different, hate each other and are eternal enemies. Wanna shatter the Islamist extremist worldview? Show them we aren’t separate or different and don’t hate each and can be eternal friends.”
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As you ponder the discussions (and arguments) regarding immigration, refugees, and terrorism taking place these days, would you join me in praying this beautiful prayer written by Laurie Ann Kraus?
God of mercy, whose presence sustains us in every circumstance,
in the midst of unfolding violence and the aftermath of terror and loss,
we seek the grounding power of your love and compassion.
In these days of fearful danger and division, we need to believe somehow that your kingdom of peace in which all nations and tribes and languages dwell together in peace is still a possibility.
Give us hope and courage that we may not yield our humanity to fear..,
even in these endless days of dwelling in the valley of the shadow of death.
We pray for neighbors in Paris, in Beirut, in Baghdad, who, in the midst of the grace of ordinary life–while at work, or at play, have been violently assaulted, their lives cut off without mercy.
We are hostages of fear, caught in an escalating cycle of violence whose end can not be seen.
We open our hearts in anger, sorrow and hope: that those who have been spared as well as those whose lives are changed forever may find solace, sustenance, and strength in the days of recovery and reflection that come. We give thanks for strangers who comfort the wounded and who welcome stranded strangers,for first responders who run toward the sound of gunfire and into the smoke and fire of bombing sites.
Once again, Holy One, we cry, how long, O Lord? We seek forgiveness for the ways in which we have tolerated enmity and endured cultures of violence with weary resignation. We grieve the continued erosion of the fabric of our common life, the reality of fear that warps the common good. We pray in grief, remembering the lives that have been lost and maimed, in body or spirit.
We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among global and national agencies and individuals assessing threat and directing relief efforts; and for our anger and sorrow to unite in service to the establishment of a reign of peace, where the lion and the lamb may dwell together, and terror will not hold sway over our common life.
In these days of shock and sorrow, open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to the movements of your Spirit, who flows in us like the river whose streams makes glad the city of God, and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.
In the name of Christ, our healer and our Light, we pray, Amen.
Photo by PolSifter