I recall when my father had terminal cancer I would fly out to see him each month. His abilities changed a bit each time when I saw him. There was a constant adjustment to the “new normal,” yet we all longed for a different “normal” than the cards we had been dealt. My heart hurts today at the news of yet another mass shooting. Somehow this sort of news has become the “new normal” in our nation. Again, I find myself wishing for a very different “normal” from what plays out on the news each day.
The shooting in San Bernadino hits especially close to home because, according to a colleague in disability ministry who lives very close to the epicenter of violence, the office building is mostly for social workers who provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities. When the story broke, my first thought was that the assailants had opened fire directly upon the most vulnerable members of our society. My corrected understanding is little changed from that initial reaction. Death and devastation of innocence is unconscionable in all circumstances. No one, regardless of physical ability, can outrun a bullet.
Thinking of the light of hope that we celebrate this week during Advent, I look forward to a time when the events of San Bernadino, and Sandy Hook, and hundreds upon hundreds of other locations this year alone, are no longer our normal. I pray for it to be so.
What is the purpose of prayer in the midst of such violence? I begin each day with prayer and take a mid-afternoon break to visit the prayer garden at my office. In prayer I share my thoughts with God, become more centered in God’s presence, and then renew my daily efforts in providing social justice and offering hope for families raising children with special needs. Prayer serves a purpose. Prayer creates peace and centerdness, and it is also creates action. Prayer is how we communicate with God so that we are listening when God points out to us the way forward. It is then up to us to put our feet on that path one step at a time.
I do not know how our nation got so off track, nor do I care to engage in political finger pointing. That is not helpful. What I do know is this. Daily mass shootings are not God’s plan. God is lighting a different path and I pray for us to follow it. As a pastor in disability ministry, what action can I take to make a difference? I can offer words of hope to prompt us to that path. The Gospel of John tells us, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” (John 1:5) Darkness cannot win. The Advent wreath lit this week with the candle of hope reminds us that it is so.
Healing God, provide comfort and healing to those directly affected in San Bernadino. Provide peace for those in fear. Light a path forward that leads us from this place of violence and into living as the people you have called us to be. Amen
-Rev Doc Lorna
Lorna Bradley, DMIN
Developmental Disabilities Fellow
Hope and Healing Center & Institute
Image Burning Candle by Sommai courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com