Darkness has covered our nation and thick darkness has descended upon our people. Tragedy has clouded out the light. Shots rang out in Aurora, Colorado. Some people were wounded by gas and bullets. Others were murdered.
In this time of darkness may your resilient light shine forth.
May your light shine on the family and friends of the 12 people who were killed during this senseless crime. There's no way to explain the darkness that indiscriminately murders children, women, and men. They were each someone's son, daughter, mother, or father — and nobody can fully understand the immense grief and righteous anger of their loved ones. They need your light, Loving God. Please pour it forth.
May your light shine on the family and friends of the many people who were wounded. After simply showing up to see the new Batman movie to enjoy some entertainment, their evening took a tragic turn as they were physically wounded and psychologically scarred by being gassed and shot in a frightening rampage. Plus they had the additional trauma of watching others around them die. This must confound their pain in ways we can only imagine. So, we do what we can, Loving God, and pray for your light to make its way in their lives — and in their recovery.
May your light shine on the family and friends of all of those who were wounded or murdered in this act of terrorism. This tragedy has sent ripples of grief and anger through all of these people, as they ask the questions anyone would ask. Why? Why her? Why him? Why a child? Why now? Why like this? Why during a movie? Why? This is a moment where there is a “dark night of the soul” for many people. So, we pray that you hold them in your light. Please bless all those around them, not with platitudes, but with comforting words. And in the weeks and months ahead, bless them with a passion for seeking justice and building a more peaceful world.
May your light shine on all of us who are saddened and sickened by the news of this act of violence. We suffer from afar as we hear about this on our TVs, and read about it on our computers and in our newspapers. In our own work of processing this event, Holy God, bless us with enough frustration to reject acts and symbols of violence in our world and bless us with enough hope that we're inspired to work toward building a better world.
May your light shine on the murderer, James Holmes, whose darkness overcame his light. Perhaps he has a long history of perverse decision making. Perhaps his family history was painful. Perhaps his social life was conflictual. Perhaps his mental health was compromised. Perhaps his community of support was of little support. Whatever darkness overtook this man, may there be a way for light to peek through into his life.
May your light shine on the friends and family of the murderer — who may be asking questions to which there are no easy answers. May their sadness, anger, guilt, and shame be accepted by those around them as they process this situation. And someday, may they be able to see and know that light does shine in the darkness — and the darkness will not overcome it.
And may your light shine on all the people who create the movies, music, and news that we watch each day. May it shine on filmmakers who make bloodshed look acceptable. May it shine on musicians who write songs that glorify violence. And may it shine on the political pundits and shock jocks who fill the media with hatred, rage, and incivility. There’s no such thing as a lone gunman — and sometimes the violence and rage in the media are enough to tip the balance of an already imbalanced person.
Yet the people who fill the airways with this kind of darkness need light, too. So, Loving God, through your light, may they see the damage that their words and images can do. And may their hearts be softened, their words be tempered, and their styles of entertainment be changed, so that their positions in the media can be used in the service of fostering a more civil, gracious, and peaceful nation.
Even in the midst of this tragedy, may we hold onto the hope that your light will continue to shine forth in the darkness until we are able to boldly proclaim, with the author of Isaiah: “Arise, shine; for our light has come, and the glory of God has risen within us.”
This prayer is based on Isaiah 60:1-2.
The Rev. Brian Brandsmeier is a graduate of Eden Seminary, a UCC pastor, a mystic, and a creative worship leader. He blogs with his wife Sara at Sojourning Spirituality.