We all woke up this morning to the horrible news of the shooting in Las Vegas, along with the many echoes of “thoughts and prayers” being sent out to those affected by the shooting. Admittedly, even as a person of faith, I find such expressions pretty hollow. Thoughts and prayers didn’t do anything after the Sandy Hook or Orlando Pulse massacres, because the didn’t translate into tangible action and social change.
David Frum, a Republican writer posted something brutally poignant this morning, simply quoting something from Isaiah 1:15
“When you stretch out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.” (NRSV)
It’s a reminder that prayer isn’t about getting God to do something, but rather to transform ourselves into service. Yesterday, the confirmation class with the four youth in our congregation covered the section in the New Creed which we say every week at St. Matthew’s, that we are called to “seek justice and resist evil.” We aren’t called to sit back and send good vibes someplace.
While the massacre in Las Vegas is not something that we can respond to on the ground, what we can do is try to make the world where we are a better place. Something we should also resist is the Canadian tendency to look with disdain on the failings of our southern neighbours, as they all too often live with the consequence of living by the sword. Rather, what is needed is our willingness to change, and therefore we can change the culture of violence that we unconsciously embrace.
In other words, thoughts and prayers are only meaningful if they are paired with concrete action that looks at the way things are, to recognize that it isn’t right, and then taking action to change the culture and transform society into something better.