How do I feel about the terror attacks in Paris?
I have been asked a few times in the past couple of days.
I have also had to contend with reading and digesting more than enough anger and hatred than I care to take in — especially when it comes from people I love and respect.
SO — I am posting my sermon here! This will give you a sense of how I feel and what I am thinking about in the days following a week of terror attacks. Please feel free to share — please feel free to disagree — The comment section is open. It is not a forum for hatred however and disrespectful, or xenophobic comments will be removed.
Loosely speaking the text of my sermon is posted below… with some exceptions and changes.
Sermon – In the Wake of Parish Terror Attacks – WE MUST PRAY
Begin by praying Psalm 43 ….
Darkness will not drive out darkness – only light can do that! – MLK
This week has been one of the very worst.
We have all been rocked by what we have witness come across our TV screens, our front pages, our twitter feeds … etc.
The terror that fell upon Paris on Friday is an affront to humanity everywhere. It has shocked us all.
Here the words of faith leaders:
‘I am moved and I am saddened…There is no religious or human justification for it’
Justin Welby – Archbishop of Canterbury:
Tragic Paris, desperate news of deep tragedy, with heartbreak for so many. We weep with those affected, pray for deliverance and justice.
Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Catholic archbishop of Paris:
In the face of human violence, may we receive the grace of a steady heart, free of hatred. May the moderation, temperance and self-control that everyone has shown up to now continue throughout the coming weeks and months. May no one allow themselves to get caught up in panic or hate. Let us ask God for the grace to be peacemakers. We must never despair of the possibility of peace, if it is justice that we are building.
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain
“This attack is being claimed by the group calling themselves ‘Islamic State’,” he said. “There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith.”
International Abrahamic Forum
The International Abrahamic Forum, comprising Muslims, Christians and Jews, strongly condemns the horrific terrorist attacks carried out in Paris.
We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the innocent people who lost their lives in these vicious inhumane attacks and pray for the full and speedy recovery of the wounded. These barbaric acts stand contrary to everything that Islam represents. We express our solidarity with the French people and pray that peace and reconciliation between all the children of Abraham will prevail.
IAF Co-chairs Rabbi Ehud Bandel and Dr Mustafa Baig
and Project Coordinator Francesca Frazer
Bishop Bob Bennett
It is important that our prayers do not end with Paris and this tragedy alone. Pray for our world which seems to be increasingly full of deep violence and pain. Pray for those who will be unfairly targeted after this attack because they share religion or race with the attackers. Pray for all of us, that we do not become what we fear.
So since Friday – I have been trying to pull together my thoughts. I have done so prayerfully because honestly – these things have a way of really leaving us without words.
Here are some of my thoughts – I confess – not all of them.
Why pray ask some? – Prayer will not do anything. I disagree.
We run the risk of becoming what we condemn.We Need to Pray!Some are asking why would God put this tragedy upon the people of france? God did not. People filled with hate did that. We need to pray!
Many people now have to figure out how to live in the midst of the unspeakable aftermath of Friday in Paris. We need to pray!
AFTER the violence in Paris I became aware of the violence of this week —
The people of Beirut suffered a suicide bombing on Friday – 43 dead over 240 hospitalized. We Need to Pray!
The people of Baghdad suffered a Suicide Bombing at a Funeral on Thursday. 19 dead and 33 hospitalized My prayers are for the people of all races and nationalities, my prayers are for leaders around the word. We Need to Pray!
I have been asking myself of I, along with much of the West place different values on different lives? Are we as outraged at the killing of those in the Mid-east as we are at those in Paris? We need to pray!
My prayers are that we now allow the hate that inspired attacks on innocents this week turn us to hate. We need to pray!
We need to pray in part because our humanity is intertwined with all humanity and when others hurt – we should feel that hurt. We need to pray because we often value some lives more than others and that is wrong. We need to pray because we need our hearts to remain firm in Love. We Need to Pray!
And most of all We need to pray because hate is insidious and it is the work of the dark one — when these things happen. Hate is breathing down our necks — we need to pray to be people swift on our feet to put distance between ourselves and that hate. We need to pray that we do not become what we most despise. We Need to Pray!
In the words of Martin Luther King –
“Darkness cannot drive out Darkness – only LIGHT can do that!”
Today’s gospel is a reminder that the Kingdom is not just around the corder we are in the midst of war and earthquake and confusion. Those are not the harbingers of the kingdom…
We pray – “Thy Kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in heaven!”We search for God’s reign, we pray that we may begin to truly live it. It will become real when we have the wisdom to put aside the ways of war and violence and embrace peace and shalom. In the words of Isaiah…
Many nations will go and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of Jacob’s God
so that he may teach us his ways
and we may walk in God’s paths.”
Instruction will come from Zion;
the Lord’s word from Jerusalem.
God will judge between the nations,
and settle disputes of mighty nations.
Then they will beat their swords into iron plows
and their spears into pruning tools.
Nation will not take up sword against nation;
they will no longer learn how to make war.
let’s walk by the Lord’s light.
God weeps at this kind of human failure. God weeps all the more when our response is to follow the leading of Darkness.
I close with these words from Jeremiah – I believe they reflect how God is present in this very difficult week of violence:
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and wailing.
It’s Rachel crying for her children;
she refuses to be consoled,
because her children are no more.
The Lord proclaims:
Keep your voice from crying
and your eyes from weeping,
because your endurance will be rewarded, declares the Lord.
They will return from the land of their enemy!
There’s hope for your future,
declares the Lord. Your children will return home!
As is always the case – your feedback is most welcomed here. Simply post your comments below.
Thanks Kevin for words of hope in such a sad time. Much appreciated. Bettie xo
Thank you Bettie for taking time to respond
Thanks for following
Kevin, I agree with you entirely. We have to pray for understanding, for moderation and for GOD’S WISDOM . As James says, “If anyone lacks wisdom go to God who gives of it generously”Jam. 1:5 Leaders are in a time when they are at a loss as to what to do.They need God’s help. This is war against evil; but Jesus also said,”Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” What a different world it would be if we really did this.
Dr.Lynne Baab wrote this about the value of prayer,”God works in our lives in response to the needs we express in prayer, the concerns we have about people we love, and the tensions and anxieties we experience in everyday life. God invites us to open our hearts and minds to see the way the Holy Spirit is moving in the situations we care about (like France). Spiritual practices go a long way toward listening to God.”
Those words are most helpful
Thank you for your thoughtful response
Thank you Kevin
Thank you for taking time to respond
Kevin – yes, we must ‘keep our cool’ under these very difficult challenges. Thank you.
Thanks Phil for your feedback
Thanks, Kevin for your thoughtful words.
Thank you Chris for taking time to respond — please give our love to Margaret and the boys
Thank you Kevin. I so appreciate receiving your thoughts, quotes, and call for prayer in these difficult times, especially when I am not able to get to St Aidan’s to be with fellow parishioners during these dreadful times. My prayers go out to all the victims and persons terrorized by this insane behaviour happening around the world.
Shalom, Tricia Henderson
Thank you for listening to these words and for weighing in when you are away — you and your family remain in my prayers