As we once again find ourselves in vigil between death and new life, we stand in prayer and presence with the victims of yesterday’s tragic massacres in Las Vegas, Nevada and Lawrence, Kansas. We stand in death with those who died, in condolence with those who mourn and in anxiety with those victims of past tragedies for whom this event will re-open past grief and loss. It is almost unfathomable to contemplate how we can possibly be of assistance to them, yet in our Christian tradition we know that they need most the gift of our presence. Though we are far away, we may know victims who lived in these places or were visiting at this time. Any of us who have journeyed there may remember standing in that very spot and feeling a sense of gratitude that it could have been me but that it was not or a sense of guilt that I escaped such a random and all too familiar threat. I invite you to enter into that place and hold the ambiguity of your feelings. That is to be present with all those affected by this tragedy. So that you might find familiar and comforting surroundings for your prayer, St. Paul’s will be open for all who would like to come for prayer and solace. All visitors may enter the church from the West Portico during the day when staff is present.
I invite you to join St. Paul’s community in discerning new ways our ministries here in Milwaukee can guide us to build a culture of non-violence that might begin to heal the wounds and losses of our nation and the tragedies most certain to come in the future. On the eve of the feast of St. Francis, let us hold his prayer and hope:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
In hope and peace,
The Rev. Brad Toebben, Rector
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church