Darkness has covered our nation and thick darkness has descended upon our people. Tragedy has clouded out the light. Shots rang out at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Some children and adults were wounded by bullets while others were killed. In this time of darkness, Holy God, may your resilient light shine forth.
May your heavenly light and love embrace all of the victims of this tragedy: Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hocksprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Russeau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, and Allison N. Wyatt. While we are saddened by their deaths, we trust that you will hold them in your eternal embrace, Gracious God.
May your light shine on the family and friends of the 26 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 people who were wounded. After simply showing up to school, their morning took a tragic turn as they were physically wounded and psychologically scarred by being 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. 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 school? 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. 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, safer world.
May your light shine on the murderer, Adam Lanza, whose darkness overcame his light. Perhaps he had 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 it never drive another person to this level. Shine your light into darkest corners, Gracious God.
And 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.
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 the words 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.)