Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Praying for friends and praying for strangers

I had a discussion last night about how tragedies in the news are so much harder to digest when someone you know is involved. We've been so desensitized by TV crime shows, violent movies, and the constant media coverage of murders, violence, and fires, that they all start to feel the same, regardless of whether they are real or fictional.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that real people are involved. Each day, people's lives are turned upside down and their reality is shattered as loved one's are lost to violence, as memories burn in home fires, or as something else happens that makes everything else seem inconsequential in comparison .... yet when it show up on TV, we tend to either process it as entertainment, or get bored and change the channel.

Then you see a friend in the news, or a relative of a friend, or a friend of a friend. You recognize the name and it suddenly hits home. You are in shock. You remember once again that these stories are about REAL PEOPLE. You aren't watching another episode of NCIS, Heroes, Bones, Psych, Law & Order, CSI, or whatever fits your fancy. It's your friend fighting to stay composed on TV. It makes me more attuned to the daily tragedies of those I don't know too, as I'm trying in fits and starts to remember to pray for everyone in the news that I hear -- to remember that everything on TV isn't about fictional characters.

This type of thing has happened to me several times this year (too many times). This week, it happened as I saw Pastor Lowell Michelson on the news talking about Dr. George Tiller, an usher that day, being shot inside the church building as worship was beginning on Sunday (text version):

I know Lowell from his days as a traveling musician, and his seminary years when he was involved with the Lutheran Campus Ministry at The Ohio State University. My heart goes out to him at this time, as I pray for the family of George Tiller, the community of Reformation Lutheran in Wichita, and for Lowell and the other leaders there as they share God's grace and peace during this time of tragic upheaval.

Echoing their prayers:

Oh God, in this time of tragedy and sorrow we give thanks for your comfort in times of need and loss. We pray for the courage to be peacemakers, rejecting violence as a means of resolving differences. We trust your promise that neither death nor life nor anything in all creation will be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. We trust in your promises of: forgiveness, hope, love, and new life, even from death. In your promises there is healing and hope for the whole world, in Jesus Christ we pray, AMEN.