Last night in my Ash Wednesday sermon, I challenged us to respond with evil by doing a charitable act. In the Litany of Penitence we prayed to God to, Accept our repentance for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty. In light of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida yesterday, we can live out this prayer in tangible ways.
The first step is to look within asking such questions as,
How are you charitable to yourself, or not?
Who do you rely on to give you grace when you fail to live up to your own standards?
The second step is to look outside with such questions as,
How do I respond/react to things that don’t go my way?
What am I indifferent to? Why?
What do I try to control? Why?
The third step is to ask God for help, praying a prayer like,
“Lord God, I am helpless in this situation/act/addiction. Help me.”
“Lord God, I am overwhelmed. Comfort me.”
“God, let me simply rest in you.”
One of the reasons we are violent and have a violent society is because we are not charitable to ourselves as God has been charitable to us. We forget God’s love and compassion; thereby forgetting to find God’s love and compassion in the “other” the “stranger” the “neighbor, and the “enemy”. We take a short-cut and “label” instead of doing the hard work of building relationship.
Lent is a time to name sin and to name evil. Lent is also a time to admit that we are helpless to counter sin and evil in our lives without God’s help. Today, be kind to others by first being kind to yourself. Give this tragedy to God in order to free yourself up to be charitable to self and other. Above all, “walk in love as Christ loves us.”
A Prayer: In Times of Conflict (BCP, 824)
O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.