Praying for Texas
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Psalm 46:1, NRSV).
It’s been hard to wrap my head around this past Sunday’s shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas…maybe you as well. It’s hard to fathom how so much violence could happen in a place that should be safe…safe in every sense of the word. I’ve heard lots of questions over the last few days; here’s a few of them.
Why did God let this happen? There are three things I can definitely say. 1) God has the power to prevent anything from happening, including something this tragic. 2) This shooting was not God’s will or desire. 3) In God’s love, wisdom, and grace every human being is given the freedom to choose. If we’re really honest, none of us would want to give up our “God-given” freewill. Yet, it’s why bad things sometime happen, even to good and innocent people.
Where was God when this was happening? I believe God was right there, in the middle of it. God presence was there: working to dissuade the shooter, working to give people wisdom and courage in the face of such grave danger, working to provide comfort and peace to the victims…and to far too many, providing that same comfort and peace as they transitioned from this life to the next.
Could it happen here? Yes, its possible (see above). It’s possible, but by no means probable. And although the likelihood of this kind of violent act happening when we gather for worship as the Ozark United Methodist Church is small, it’s possibility means safety is always our concern. For those of you on our Ozark UMC weekly eNews mailing list, I shared an email with you on Monday evening regarding our current Sunday morning “safety” practices and I will be sharing more in another email later this week.
How do we respond? We continue to be in prayer for all those affected by this tragic shooting…that they will know the comfort, peace, strength, healing, and very real presence of God as they walk through this dark valley of life. We pray for ourselves and one another…that we will be safe, grow daily in our faith and trust in God, and make good decisions based on that faith and trust. And we continue to live our lives each day knowing that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” And so we do not live in fear, but in love for God and one another.
And we gather this Sunday with our congregation for worship. I look forward to seeing at 8:30 or 11:00 a.m. as we authentically worship God, experience the hope of Christ, and are changed by Holy Spirit!
The Lord be with you…