“Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly; the faithful have disappeared from humankind…You, O Lord, will protect us; you will guard us from this generation forever.”
–Psalm 12:1, 7
The beginning of the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday last week was forever changed for many of God’s children with another deadly act of horrific violence that claimed 17 lives and injured numerous others physically and emotionally in Parkland, Florida.
In a message sent out after the tragedy by our Bishop, Hee-Soo Jung, he wrote in part, “Children were shot and killed. The scope and reach of this tragedy was definitely connected to guns. We must, as a society, as a culture, and as a Church stop living in denial. Gun violence is out of control in this country…Don’t argue and debate guns. Pray with me. Pray for the victims and their families. Pray for the shooter and his family. Pray for the communities, the police, the teachers, the leadership of a world turned upside down. And take action. If you are as saddened and enraged as I am, write to your governor, your senators, your representatives, and your local officials. Invite them to join us in the Wesleyan injunction to first, do NO harm; second, do all the GOOD we can; and last, to strive in every way to ground your life in the love and will of God.”
In times of tragedy and loss, I am drawn to the Psalms and to our vows of Baptism. I am always amazed at how it feels like the Psalms, written thousands of years ago, could have been written in our time and for what is happening in our culture and our world. In many Psalms, the Psalmist moves from lament and crying out in anguish to God, to words that praise God; all in the same Psalm.
The first two vows of our baptismal covenant ask, “Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of your sin?” And, “Do you accept the freedom and power God give you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
Our baptismal vows speak so clearly to what is happening all around us. As we enter into the first full week of the Lenten season, may we take time to reflect, pray and ask God where and how we fit into rejecting and resisting evil with our voices and our actions.
May we find the time and strength to prayerfully enter into God’s presence and seek the wisdom only God can offer.