Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Las Vegas

October 4th, 2017 · No Comments · Sharp Prayers

Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore.

–Harry Emerson Fosdick


Dear Friends in Christ:

What are we to do?

All this week, I have glanced at the news and then turned away. I heard a segment of an audio recording, a staccato burst–nine bullets a second–before I lunged and switched off the radio. I have avoided watching the police videos. I have tried not to stare at this horrific eclipse.

I haven’t wanted to look.

At the same time, like most people, I have been searching for answers: “How many people? How many guns? Who is this guy? Why? Why did he do it?” The details coming from Las Vegas are so awful. There must be some key fact that will unlock our understanding. There must be some snippet of backstory that will make sense of all this.

Nothing will make sense of this.

I get angry. Why are we going down this path again? We know the playbook. Politicians will offer “thoughts and prayers.” Flowers will be strewn along fences. Candles will be lit. Editorials will be written. Sermons will be preached. And then…

I start to go numb. I doubt anything will change. This is not the last time we will wake to this story. This is merely the latest in an unstoppable string of blood-splattered encounters. Tortured souls will keep acquiring assault weapons and will keep turning them on innocents. They will.

I read a little. I read about the heroes–the nurses and doctors who (like a M.A.S.H. unit) worked like frenzied angels to keep as many people breathing as was humanly possible.

I read a little more. I read about the victims. This is slow-going… heart-shredding. I sample one or two stories at a time. A mother, a new husband, a dog-owner, a hair-dresser, a county clerk, a salmon-fisherman, a soldier. The bios of these country-music lovers devastate me. The tributes offered by their family members unspool me.

I pray. I weep for the dead. I ask God to do the impossible–to do what only God can do.

Precious Lord, hold these people. Hold us all. Walk alongside us through this terrible valley. Steady our steps. Give us hope. Pour your unfathomable peace over our heads like a balm. Save us all from this madness.

I read Micah 6. “What does the Lord require of us? To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” I notice that Micah asks the faithful “to do justice.” He doesn’t tell us to demand justice from others. He says, “Do justice.”

I get the message. Back to work. There is justice to be done.

There is kindness to be loved.

See you in worship,




P.S. Our preacher this Sunday is FAPC’s beloved friend, Dr. Nora Tubbs Tisdale of Yale Divinity School. Nora will continue our journey through the Book of Revelation by preaching on Revelation, Chapter 6-The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

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