Don and I were a part of Menlo Church before moving to the Pacific Coast. I requested, and received, permission from Pastor John Ortberg to reprint his letter to the Menlo family following the recent mass murders that have horrified us all. And on Thursday another angry man stabbed and killed four people, wounding two others. Ortberg speaks clearly to the evil that is present in our world, and to our response as Christ followers.
Dear Menlo Family,
One of the lines in the world’s most famous prayer says simply: “Deliver us from evil.” Evil is always present in our world. Sometimes it’s possible for some of us to forget; and then evil surfaces and we remember and shudder.
And this past week has been one of those times. We saw it here in the Bay Area touching our brothers and sisters in Gilroy. We saw it in El Paso. We saw it in Dayton, where a shooter’s victims included his own sister.
Deliver us from evil.
It is important for us to name evil. Evil is love’s opposite; it is the will-to-harm. It is what happen when hate—like the spirit of white supremacy that surfaced again in El Paso—darkens the human heart and blasphemes the image of God in human beings.
As followers of Jesus, we stand with the victims, and their families, the minority groups being targeted, and all who suffer as a result of this hatred and violence. We call on and ask God for our political leaders to be given wisdom and courage to act for justice and shalom. We seek to help however we can—as a church we’ve been in touch with the leaders of our sister church in Gilroy to give them support and rest.
And we pray. Authentic prayer is never irrelevant. It is not an alternative to action; it is a form and source of it. We ask God to make us, in our small corners of the earth, agents of his peace and love. We are reminded once again of how deeply and desperately our broken world needs God.
We remember, too, that deliverance from evil is not the only phrase. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus’ plan is for God’s will to be done—in Gilroy and El Paso and Dayton—and starting in the hearts and lives of those who follow him.
We are to be—are privileged to be—agents of a kingdom far greater and more resilient than any human being can design. We do this as we pray and love and worship and learn and serve and care. We are Kingdom bringers.
I join with all of you in praying.
Copyright © 2019 Menlo Church, All rights reserved.
And for suggestions on how to pray for survivors, read this excellent article by a shooting survivor, from Christianity Today: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/august-web-only/dayton-el-paso-mass-shooting-thoughts-prayers.html?utm_source=ctweekly-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=23469312&utm_content=665313077&utm_campaign=email
May we join our hearts and hands in praying for, and providing what support we can, to those who have experienced these traumatic shootings.