I’ve never been to Vegas, but after the mass shooting there last night, they’ve been on my mind and heart this morning. Enough that I posted this to Facebook this morning:
Praying for #LasVegas, and for a country that can seemingly agree on nothing except that we should pray.
Maybe that’s the best place to start.
Of course, sharing such a sentiment gets “likes” and positive comments.
And, then I read this post from my friend Jared Slack:
the fact there we’re all secretly hoping Stephen Paddock (Vegas shooter) is a by-product of our political/religious rivals is the problem.
After that bounced around in me for a while, I realized a potential shortcoming of my post.
I left it too easy for us to end up just praying for the other. Sure, “others” like victims, victim’s families, friends, residents of Las Vegas, the shooter and his family, friends, etc.
But if all we all agree to do is pray like that, for the other, whoever the other might be, I think we give in to remaining caught in this tragic cycle of simply agreeing to pray.
What if we moved a step further?
What if we invited God, in our prayers, to help us see the steps we, ourselves, can make beyond the impasse of only agreeing that we can and should pray?
If we remain in our place, disagreeing with so many others about so much, and only willing to agree to pray, I believe we find ourselves in the place of the Pharisee in this story from Luke 18
Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”
I hereby commit to continuing to pray for Las Vegas, victims, victim’s families and friends, Stephen Paddock, his family and loved ones.
I further commit to finding, meeting, interacting, and listening to some of the “others.” for whom I am praying. Let’s call this reaching out.
When I reach out, the place for me to reach out from is the recognition that something or some things about me and the way I view and move in the world might be part of the problem.
I am reaching out not only to help, but for help.