Like many Americans, we at Via Meadia have been reflecting on this week’s awful shootings and thinking about how the country can and should respond. Scrolling through our social media feeds, Senator Ben Sasse’s words struck us as particularly wise:
There is a distressing gap between the smart phone footage and the kind of country we want to pass on to our kids. Every American—Republican, Democrat, black, and white—wants something better for our children. We all ache for peace and justice. While we may disagree on some policies to pursue those aims, we cannot forget that these are still our common aims.
There are no easy solutions for our communities that have been sown with distrust and violence. This must necessarily involve lawmakers but it is bigger than politics and will primarily depend on parents, pastors, and civic leaders.
As national as our conversations may sometimes feel in the Internet age, the most meaningful exchanges still happen in the car on the way to school, in the pews before prayers begin, at community dinners, and during the lunch break. In that vein, we found this advice from Pastor Russell Moore to be helpful:
The past week reeks of blood. We saw the cellphone videos of black men killed by police officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. We saw a terrorist ambush on police in Dallas, killing at least five officers and injuring seven. The country reels beneath all this violence. So how should a pastor speak to this on Sunday? Here are a few suggestions.
1) Pray specifically for the families of those killed, by name.
One of the most chilling aspects of the violence we see around us is the attempt at invisibility, as though those who are killed lived lives that didn’t matter. This is not new. After Cain killed Abel, he chafed at even the reminder of his existence (Gen. 4). Read aloud as you pray the names that we have:
Pray not only for their families to be comforted, but also for justice to be served, that others—whether police officers protecting a rally or African-American young men in any given city in America—would no longer be unjustly killed.
6) Consider a word of testimony.
If your church is one that can easily identify with the plight of police officers but not with those of African-Americans grieving the deaths of those shot by police, consider asking an African-American parent to speak for a few moments of what he or she experiences with worries about his or her child. If your church is one that is grieved and angry about the way black lives don’t seem to matter but does not know how to grieve for police officers slain in the course of duty, perhaps ask a godly law enforcement officer to speak about how he or she seeks to live out the ethic of Jesus in maintaining public order. In either case, pray then not only for the person who has offered testimony but for all who are in similar situations.
Moore lists seven ideas in total, and they’re all worth reflecting on no matter your personal beliefs about God. We’d encourage you to read the whole thing.