Since Wednesday morning's shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo on duty at the National War Memorial and the subsequent storming of the Canadian Parliament Buildings, I have not been able to find the right words. There are obvious words like maddening and crazy and tragic, but I am still looking for a better word and don't want to cheapen words like love and forgiveness.
I found words that seemed to work when it was New York and then Boston, but this is different. It is like trying to speak at your parent's funeral. Many cannot. The parliament is in many like a parent. It is the seat of government and the place we turn for leadership.
So I apologize for my silence, but words have failed me. The truth is on Wednesday we were bombarded with words and clung to them only to learn that many of the things said in the midst of the storm turned out to be less than true. And so, one waits for the storm to subside praying that indeed it will. After all, Wednesday's attack in Ottawa was the second fatal attack on a Canadian forces soldier this week. If nothing else we must pray this is the end.
As I continued to wrestle to find the right words, I received an email from my youngest brother, Rob, who had been away for the last two days on business. He returned this morning only to discover one of his key employees, the man in the office next to his own, is a cousin of Nathan Cirillo. My brother filled me in on a number of details concerning the family and the young son of the single father, and then my brother asked one simple thing of his brother the minister. Please pray. Even when we don't know what to say, we can pray. The Scripture assures us that even when our prayer is but a groan, God gets it.
And so I offer the following prayer to God and offer it to you in the event it might guide you in your own prayers.
Gracious God, you are the Source of life and all that is good and so we turn to you in this season when we are overwhelmed with news that is bad beyond words. Yet we come to you, O God, believing that no cacophony of evil is beyond the enlightenment of your Word, nor any darkness beyond the reach of your light. By your Word which brings life, lighten the load of Nathan Cirillo's family who shoulder the grief of our nation - and enlighten the way forward for Nathan's son, Marcus. Watch with those who watch over him and watch too with those who stand guard over the freedoms we so cherish. We pray too O God for the 'radicalized' among us. Heal the wounds that plague their souls and open their eyes and hearts to that new day when the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and all people will live and worship freely in peace each one according to their conscience. Protect O God, the institutions which anchor our democracy and strengthen too the resolve of all people to be not afraid, but with faith, hope and love to live for nothing less than that day when disease and hatred and warfare will cease and death itself shall be forever silenced, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Grace and Peace,