When Aimless Violence

This morning we sang a hymn by Wausau, Wi. resident Joy F. Patterson, “When aimless violence takes those we love.”  We sang the hymn as a replacement of the one in the bulletin “Praise the Almighty, my soul adore Him.”   We sang of the darkness of the aimless mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton numbers 249 and 250 in this year of our Lord 2019.   I write today also in the darkness of 9 children who have been shot and killed in St. louis since June.  As we sang the hymn about aimless violence tears welled in my eyes.

I have been wanting to write of the continuing verbal assaults of leaders denigrating people and those who carry out actions decimating people’s lives.  I’m not sure I know what to write.  I could write of thoughts and prayers.  I know what prayers are but I’m not sure about thoughts.  In my understanding, prayers are directed to God but following the prayers we humans need to  act in behalf of the welfare of our neighbor which is all other people on this planet.  It’s God’s will that we prayer, but also God’s will that we serve as his hands in this world.

Let me take you back to some words of Martin Luther that many of us learned as children.  “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body but help and support him every bodily need.”  Luther also wrote, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

The first stanza of LSB hymn 764 concludes, “When random death strikes childhood’s promise down, when wrenching loss becomes our daily bread, we know, O God, you leave us not alone.”  For that knowing I sing in trust, “Their faithful God He will remain.  He helps His children in distress, the widows and the fatherless.”  Lord, now move us to act in our neighbor’s behalf.

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