Karl Kroger, the President of the SD Peace & Justice Center board, helped lead a candlelight vigil on the Capitol steps in Pierre yesterday to commemorate the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. He has graciously provided photographs and the text of the Litany for a Great Tragedy used that evening. Rather than offer commentary, I will simply allow the litany and the photos to speak for themselves. And for those who are of other faith traditions, or of no faith tradition, though the language of Christianity may not move you, I am confident you will recognize the power of people coming together to mourn and to witness for goodness and healing, as our friends in Pierre did…
Leader: Lord, we come to you stunned, shocked, grieving … our hearts linked to those for whom this tragedy shall veil their hearts for a long time to come.
People: Lord, come to comfort us, and come to offer healing and hope to those whose spirits are wounded by the sudden death of ones they love.
Leader: Father, where can we turn when the senselessness of hatred and violence rips apart our complacency, save to you? Where is our peace, save in your arms of mercy?
People: Lord, we cry, Abba, Father! Comfort these your children, you who lost your only child. Embrace the ones among us for whom grief is so raw and fresh today.
Leader: We confess our sin, the violence that lurks in us all. We call it anger, hatred, revenge … whatever its name, it is a compelling power within us.
People: Lord, pull the root of bitterness, the whirlwind of anger, the deadened heart of hatred out of us and restore to us a heart of flesh. Refill us with your peace. Let your love be a lamp to light the way that leads us home.
Leader: When all else is stripped away, when all that the world offers us for meaning and purpose is removed, still you, your word, your will, your grace, your holy presence will remain.
ALL: Lord, we place our trust in you. We find our comfort in you. We find meaning that defeats random and chaotic violence in you. For you will wipe away every tear from our eyes and the eyes of our sisters and brothers, and we will be your people, and you will be our God.
In the power of the Resurrection, we pray. Amen.