By Steven Norris
On Monday night, an eleven-year-old girl in our community was killed in her sleep by a stray bullet that came through her window. In response, I call our community to prayer — to lament and confession. I offer the following responsive prayer written by Osheta Moore (originally printed in Rally: Communal Prayer for Lovers of Jesus and Justice) to guide us:
One: Jesus, you can empathize with us as we grieve. You, Lord, have sat with the trauma of loss. You know the anger, sadness, and confusion that comes when death visits your loved ones. You know because you wept for the loss of your friend. Weep with us today, Lord. We trust in you to meet us in this space. Remind us that we are not alone.
All: Come, Lord Jesus, bring us comfort.
One: Lord, teach us the power of lament, and give us the courage to weep with those who weep. Surround us and those who have been shaken by tragedy with love and community. Give us new resolve to love ourselves and others fully.
All: Come, Lord Jesus, bring us connection where this death has brought senselessness.
One: We do not want to be lost in this grief and overwhelmed by the depths of our despair. We want to hear you calling us to a place of rest. Help us, Jesus, to nestle into the safety of your wings.
All: Give us ears to hear you whisper “I am here” to our broken hearts.
One: Jesus, our minds swirl with memories of our loved one. We cannot forget their laughter and their vitality. We cannot imagine life without them. We are stunned by the vulnerability of the body, the brevity of our time together.
All: Come, Lord Jesus, bring us comfort. We trust you to work all things together for our good.
One: Jesus, our Prince of Peace, true source of wholeness, true bringer of shalom. Our world is violent, and violence delights in inflicting wounds of suffering and grief. In spite of this, you have called us to be peacemakers. With wounded hearts, you welcome us into your work of binding the wounds of this world.
All: Wounded Healer, we choose to partner with you. Help us to be the community we need. Show us how to bear one another’s burdens.
One: Jesus, our humble King, you are victorious over sin and death. For the joy of true connection with those whom you love and for the joy of reconciliation, you endured the cross. You faced death head on, and you won. Love prevailed, bringing joy from despair.
All: Come, Lord Jesus, and bring us victory over death. It will not overcome us because you have reclaimed the grave for life.
One: Show us how to take up our crosses by surrendering our pain to you so that you can truly connect with us. By not ignoring the depth of our suffering so that your Spirit may guide us back to healing. By resisting hatred, revenge, and division through seeking reconciliation.
All: We commit ourselves to you.
One: Let us join you in conquering death and all its effects. May we, in the wake of this tragedy, remember the presence of our empathetic Priest, the healing love of our Prince of Peace, and the unmatched victory of our humble King.