The shocking news of the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history has left us struggling to understand and express the depth of our emotions. We are overwhelmed by feelings of disbelief, fear, anger, powerlessness, and grief. We long for God to come close and grace our lives, the Las Vegas community, and our nation with God’s healing and comforting presence.
Our natural response is to turn to God in prayer. We pray for all who suffer as a result of the horrific act of violence that claimed 59 lives and wounded more than 500. We pray that God will grant healing and bring comfort to their families and friends. We offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the first responders, police, and those who selflessly offered aid and blood. We pray for all throughout our country who now live with a heightened sense of vulnerability, insecurity, and fear.
In times of great national or global tragedy and loss, our frustration, anger, fear, and outrage often lead us to express our political beliefs. This tragedy is no exception. The debates about gun control, treatment for the mentally ill, and the growing prominence of violence in our culture have been rightly re-ignited. There is a place and need for sustained, civil debate and resolution of these issues. We cannot continue reeling from the carnage of one tragic mass shooting to the next to the next. But, let us not permit our words to push us further apart at a time when we need to unite to extend comfort to the hurting, grieve with those who grieve, and embrace those who seek to mend.
I have found it helpful to recall the words of the apostle Paul:
I commend to you the pastoral letter Bishop Robert Hoshibata, resident bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference, wrote following this tragedy. And I encourage each of us to continue offering the ministries of prayer, comfort, healing, advocacy, and love.
Blessed be the God…of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. —II Corinthians 1:3-4 (NRSV)
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church