October 21, 2020

A Prayer For the Amish

girl_scooter.jpgI don’t know what to feel as I read the story of the execution style shootings/murders of Amish girls in Pennsylvania. As part of a Christian school in a county where guns are everywhere, I’m frightened and I want to protect my students. As a Christian, I’m outraged that such things happen, and I’m concerned for the families who have lost loved ones in this rampage. (As well as for the families throughout the country who have been victims of school violence the past two weeks.)

As a human being, I’m saddened for the shooter, an otherwise normal guy with no previous signs on instability, carrying some kind of grudge- probably at girls- for a very long time. (The Roberts lost a female child in 97, but have other children.) While many Christians believe that we need to emphasize how bad we are, I’m overwhelmed with how broken we are, and how much of a mystery we are, even to ourselves.

The Amish will bear this with quiet dignity. The focus on their suffering will bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ. If God chooses who will suffer and how- and I believe ultimately he does- then this is a great burden to bear, and one that will continue long after the cameras have gone away and the world forgets.

It appears that we will continue to see that our own children are not safe from us. In some twisted way, the depravity of the west has turned on its own children, producing monsters who are fixated on children sexually and violently. What a picture of what we’ve become. Do even animals do such things?

The debate about the incarnation intrigues me in this context. Bethlehem and Calvary. Both are the story we live by. God becomes one of us, descending into the horrendous mess we’ve made of the world, and he takes that suffering, oppression and brokenness onto/into himself, overcomes it, and rises again.

While we debate about whether other Christians really really really believe in the things we really really really really believe, the world goes on assuming that God is at such a distance that we are gods ourselves- free to act in ways that stun and silence with the realization of our capacity for violence. My prayer is that we would be stunned into silence by the incarnation and the death of Jesus, and in that silence find a light that overcomes the darkness, and a word that ends all drudges and violence. That Word has been spoken to the world. I pray it’s spoken for the devastated parents and families in Lancaster today.

Father, the brokenness of the world has intruded into one of the places where we like to pretend it would never go…the Amish community. Your people there are devasted with the losses and the wounding of their children. Comfort them. Give to them the quiet dignity of hopeful people, even in the face of great suffering. Comfort the Roberts family, whose grief and sorrow are of a different kind, but are no less painful. May parents whose grief will know no bottom rest in you. May traumatized children and teachers find peace beyond these awful events. Help us, O Lord, to contemplate what we are capable of in our isolation, loneliness, brokenness and emptiness. Surely, O Lord, that we are capable of such evil is a measurement of who we are, and what we have become. May the Love of Christ, that endured the cross and lived again on Easter, surround your hurting, fearful, grieving children. In Jesus Name..Amen.

Comments

  1. Thanks Michael. I live in Lancaster, and this happened 10mins away from where I’m getting married. Its all about as incomprehensible as it gets–the ‘normality’ of the murderer and the fact that it happened to the most peaceful people probably in the world. I like how you said we should be silenced by the incarnation–that is honestly more surprising than anything humans do.

  2. Amen.

  3. Amen.

  4. I appreciate you taking the time to blog this. We, all of us, need these words. Thank you.

  5. There is something supremely beautiful in all of this: the community forgives the man and is holding no hard feelings. And, to me, that is only seen in those who have the Messiah dwelling within them.

    With you, I pray.

  6. Patrick Kyle says

    I watched the news tonight and amidst the litany of tragedy and scandal came the shockingly discordant note of forgiveness. Even the news anchors seemed moved by the community’s willingness to forgive when one of the towns people said the gunman’s wife would be welcomed at the children’s funeral if she chose to attend.
    You are right when you say we are all broken, and in times like these the enormity of that fact is overwhelming.
    Thanks for the post and the prayer.
    Lord have mercy on us.

  7. Powerful post. Thank you for this reminder. Immanuel should blow us away. No other god did this for his people. I pray that the Amish’s willingness to forgive will inspire us in our day-to-day offenses and will minister to the family of the shooter. Kyrie eleison.