O God of mercy, we come to you in greater need of your comfort and love than usual this day. As a nation we have walked thru the valley of the shadow of death this week with the people of Portland, Oregon, Newtown, CN, and the Sandy Hook school. It’s lonely in that valley and we need your strength so that we are not overcome by the fear of such incomprehensible evil and violence. We’re shocked and angry that such pain and suffering has been visited upon innocent children and their families. We’re confused and frightened that these scenes are becoming all too familiar.
Our hearts are broken and our minds struggle to ask why and make sense of the senseless. What we do know is that we want to reach out in compassion to everyone touched directly and indirectly by this tragedy – families, teachers, students, first responders, community leaders, churches ministering to the grief stricken, political leaders looking for ways to stop the cycle of violence. Guide us with your spirit, O God, that we may be instruments of your peace to those near, and far and bearers of light to those surrounded by this darkness.
Give us faith and courage to continue to praise you and celebrate your presence in this holy season, even in the midst of our pain. Remind us that Christmas comes in the darkest days of the year when we most need the light of the world. Remind us that Jesus was born into a world where a desperate insecure king ordered the slaughter of innocent children to preserve his power. And we know who had the real power.
The light of the Christ child still shines in the darkness, and we thank you for that reassuring presence. Comfort us in our grief, banish our fears so that we may share the good news of Christmas that the eternal God is one with us, shares our pain, is so close to us that you taste the salt of our tears – and in that faith may we be empowered to share the good news that nothing in all creation, no valley, no darkness, no evil, can ever separate us from your great love, O God, our strength and redeemer.