Dear Church Family,
Our scriptures today are partner songs in the Bible, Psalms 22 and 23:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.”
I didn’t hear the news until Thursday morning: that a man had entered the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Wednesday night and gunned down the congregation gathered there, killing 9 and injuring 1. As I say, I didn’t hear about it until Thursday morning but, when I heard it, the tragedy of it took my breath. Did it feel that way to you as well? When these terrible things happen we feel like we’ve been cut to the quick. In times like this there are no easy answers. There is no chart that will help or a treatise on the doctrine of God that will soothe.
But there are the psalms.
I have offered for us today the first two verses of Psalm 22 and Psalm 23. How different they are from each other and yet they have been placed together, paired off for centuries past and centuries to come. They are placed together for a reason. They are placed together for a day just like Wednesday night in a Charleston church. Because both songs are true and both go to our core:
Where are you God? This news is too terrible, the sadness too great to bear.
There is no one who can lead me through this like you God. No one who can heal what is broken like you can.
Both songs are true and both are faithful prayers to God. We pray both today as we reel from this tragedy. What else can we do in the face of this?
Even more than that, what better can we do in the face of this?
Prayer: Lord God, I don’t know how to respond when I hear of such tragedy and sin in the world. You feel so far away and fear feels so close. Hear my prayers today. Hear my prayers for the people in the Charleston congregation who were affected. Hear my prayers for the families who are grieving. Hear my prayers for my own self as I struggle each day to trust your power more than I fear the power of sin. And hear my prayers, Lord God, even though I struggle to pray them, for the man who did this terrible thing. I pray for him and for his family. No one can carry us through our lives like you can. Lord, shepherd me through this day. Shepherd those who mourn, for you alone can heal our souls. It is in your great name I pray. Amen.
Peace of Christ be with you all,