Prayers of the People by Rev. Dr. Casey G. Baggott
Community Church of Vero Beach
12-16-12, Advent III, Year C
The day following the Sandy Hook School shooting
Based on Philippians 4:4-7

Ancient and Eternal God, author of life, sustainer of hope, comforter in every need, we have come today for reassurance of your presence, as we continue to sort through the details of destruction, sad remnants from the tragedy of the shootings at the Sandy Hook School. 

We still must sift through enormous grief, God – in the knowledge that fragile, innocent lives were senselessly lost, and countless others have been tragically altered by the rageful, loveless act of last Friday.  May we find, as we have gathered together, and as your people across this country have gathered in faith and hope, that hand reaches out to grab hand – one to the next to the next – in comfort and support.  Let us claim in our efforts to be present to and for one another in this time of need, that you are present among us.  And that in your presence we may come to trust that the incomprehensible will somehow, someday be shaped by your great wisdom.

And yet God, today we are still sifting through the shards of our broken certainties.  Gone is the predictable future we thought we knew for ourselves and our children.  The world seems more dangerous and unstable than before.  May we find amidst this uncertainty those deep convictions and lasting values that are unshakeable, despite the turmoil of the day.  And may these constants in our lives remind us of your constancy and your unchanging strength.

And God, we still sift through the rubble of our own anger and fear.  We ask that you help us to transform the energy of these dangerous emotions into passionate and productive caring – a caring that grinds hatred to a halt with measured, thoughtful justice, a caring that disarms the arsenals of cruelty with forces of goodness and grace.  Teach us and all your human family, we pray, how to live wisely and well with the powerful emotions you have granted us, so that they may protect and serve, and never be employed to harm or injure.

And finally God, we sort through our own losses – lost innocence, lost security, lost life, and we ask that we may find among these losses, a gain – a gain that comes by restoring a simple trust in you.  Show us that when all is lost, you create anew.  Show us that when life is gone, your resurrection restores.  Show us that your love cannot, for any reason, at any time be overcome.  Let us know again, that when all else is gone, love always remains.  For the greatest gift you have given your world – is – love, simple, ferocious love.  And it is enough. 

So let us rejoice today, as an act of defiance against the evil in the world.  Let us point upward to you with assurance, and claim with conviction that it’s going to be okay.  Let us turn to the Hope of the World, just waiting to be born among us, and let us give thanks… even now, especially now … let us give thanks. 

We pray today in the name and the memory of your Son – who knew the cruelty of the world and overcame it.  Let us walk in his way, share his unshakeable trust in you, and speak his very words.  Hear us now as with one confident voice, O God, we say together the words of prayer your beloved Son taught us … The Lord’s Prayer.