Prayers and Lament for Christchurch

March 18, 2019

I continue to reflect with  shock on the horror which unfolded on Friday 16th March, a date that will now be etched into the minds of all people around the world forever. As our Muslim brothers and sisters, people just like us, gathered to offer prayer when the unimaginable happened, so many lives taken in the name of hate. I continue to reflect on how faith and belief is understood and misunderstood, represented and misrepresented, how the golden rule which is the foundation of so many world religions seems to be either ignored or forgotten – ‘do no harm.’

For people of the Christian traditions I wonder how many actually hear the message of the gospel, which is one of non-violence, love, compassion, peace, mercy and justice. In our lectionary reading on Sunday we heard Jesus’ lament for the people of Jerusalem, we heard imagery that highlighted Jesus’ desire to protect and restore, his desire to take a message of reform, of hope. Jesus was so passionate about the vision and the kingdom of God, a vision and a kingdom of justice, peace, liberation, love, non-violence.

As I watched the horror unfold I began to lament; My God, my God how I desire to see peace, how I desire to see leaders of faith communities standing together in solidarity around the world, How I desire to see respect for the diversity of humanity – respect for one another as a creation created in the image of God. How I desire to see restoration and reconciliation to happen in communities and the world, for compassion with reason to become infectious across the world. So much sorrow, so much lamenting to be done.

So much hate and darkness, this leads me to be moved with compassion to ask why so much hate and darkness, what fear underlies the hate? The diversity of humanity is a gift, a gift that lends itself to enriching lives. Diversity offers an opportunity to explore and learn from one another.

As people from all backgrounds gathered together at the Brisbane Islamic College the air was filled with grief, the most amazing part of the time together for me was the absolute display of compassion and solidarity.

I watch the news and hear about the issues with our social media, the language of our politicians – yes it has to change, our leaders need to lead and to do so in a way that will bring about change of attitudes and this requires a change of attitude in the direction of respect for the diversity of humanity. Social Media, we as users need to be responsible to be mindful about what we post, why we post, what we read and why we read – let us challenge ourselves and one another. For a move to living in a non-violent world we need to ensure that our language and actions are non-violent, for a move to living in a world that is founded on love, our language and our actions need to be grounded in compassion and love.

My prayer;

God of love and life, may the world be moved with compassion. As preparations for burials commence for those murdered as they offered prayer, may the memories of their lives never be lost, but stored within the lives of their loved ones, their community and the world.  Comfort all who mourn. Weep with those who weep and hear the cries of lament.

As darkness covers the world at this time, may your light so shine that the darkness is dispelled, that we begin to see clearly that diversity is a gift, a gift that is not to be feared but to be celebrated. God help us to name our fears, help us to identify our prejudices and pre-judgements. Let us not be afraid to explore their foundations but see the opportunity to begin a new journey.

As we continue to journey through Lent, following the account of Jesus on the road to Jerusalem, where he will experience violence, suffering and ultimately death, may we remember that there is life and hope beyond violence, even though at this time we may not see it. May we be reminded that retaliation will never bring about true peace, nor is it a true expression of justice.

Abba, who is always present,
holy is your name.
Gather us as a community of love,
a community of restoration,
a reflection of heaven upon earth.
Sustain us and nourish us
bring healing and restoration.
Shatter the chains that bind us,
make us agents of freedom and peace.
May our intentions and actions
woven together with love and mercy,
may we stand for justice with compassion.
Your kingdom and vision
be the heart of our mission
where all are welcome
where the dignity of humanity is respected
today, tomorrow and always
Amen.