Standing With Our Virginia Beach Neighbors

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Dear Friends in Christ,

As I drove home last evening in a massive storm, there was another storm striking our neighbors to the east. The news was breaking of the senseless shooting in Virginia Beach. I wondered aloud as the thunder shook, "O Lord, when will it stop? When will we stop killing and start healing?"

I had just completed a devotional I shared this morning with our new camp staff at Camp Hanover. Their theme throughout the summer is Peace Works. As we reflected on God's amazing hospitality and our call to extend and receive it, I prayed for peace that passes human understanding (Philippians 4:7). We closed with the hymn, "For Everyone Born" which draws upon Christ's parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:15-24. It is a song about justice and reconciliation and love, even love for those who perpetrate such hateful acts as shooting innocent persons in a municipal building or a school or college or church or synagogue or mosque or newspaper office or at a concert or....

As I pray for the victims and their families, I am reminded that God is God of all, even those who are intent on harming others. This is how the hymn, written by Shirley Erena Murray and put to music by Brian Mann, draws us to focus on all of God's children. Listen...

For just and unjust, a place at the table,
abuser, abused, with need to forgive,
in anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy,
for just and unjust, a new way to live,

And God will delight when we are creators of justice
and joy, compassion and peace;
yes, God will delight when we are creators of justice,
justice and joy!

Please join me in prayer:

O God, when will it stop? When will we stop killing and start healing? We pray for our neighbors in Virginia Beach, for the families who awaken this morning with a dark void where a life stood and breathed yesterday morning. We pray for our family within the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia churches. Help them to help others to experience your healing love, your peace, your wholeness. We know, O God, that you delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace. Grant this on a day when we raise hard questions without easy answers. Heal us and heal those whom we are called to serve. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

In Christ's Service,
Fred A. Holbrook
Interim General Presbyter & Stated Clerk

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