Dayton has faced a lot of adversity over the last few months. It has been the source of endless media coverage with the KKK rally, tornado devastation, and now a senseless shooting leaving nine dead and 27 injured. The latest shooting comes off the heals of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Chicago. There have been a total of 255 mass shootings in the U.S.
As our staff and Mosaic attendees got the notifications and text early Sunday morning, we knew that we couldn’t carry on with “business as usual.” We changed everything on the fly with worship, including songs, extending prayer time, Scripture reading from the people, and time at the altar. It was a holy time amid grief.
People’s sadness and grief have turned to anger, and rightfully so. I am saddened and angry for not only what happened in Dayton, but what continues to happen around the country.
During these times, I am reminded that:
- Evil is real. There is no way of getting around it. We have an enemy who as Jesus said in John 10:10, “steals, kills and destroys.”
- The battle is in the physical world but also spiritual. The Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12 is an important reminder, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
- The Church, the body of Christ, has an opportunity to be God’s tangible healing agent on earth. The phrase, “on earth as it is in Heaven” in the Lord’s Prayer is more than just a prayer but mandate for The Church to help build God’s Kingdom here on earth.
- Prayer and action are necessary. It can’t be prayer alone without action. And action by itself apart from prayer won’t change anything because it’s on our own strength. St. Augustine said, “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” I must confess. It’s hard to know what action to take. What do we do amid tragedy like this? A few things we can do as individuals and as a church is make preventing gun violence a regular part of our conversations and prayer times. Assist those affected by gun violence through prayer, pastoral care, creating space, and encouraging survivors to share their stories, financial assistance, and through identifying other resources in their communities. Promote gun safety and be active in the public sector when it comes to laws in reducing gun violence.
Let us continue to be a people of prayer and action.