My prayer for today is based on Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount in which our New Testament reading is found (Matthew 5:43-6:15). "Father, make us look like you."
"Enemies" abound today, no matter where you find yourself on the political spectrum. We struggle to understand people who think differently than we do. The easy option is to vilify them. Thus my prayer: Father, make us look like you.
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).
Our Old Testament reading (Genesis 19-21) reveals our God's ability to punish the wicked.
"If [God] condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment" (2 Peter 2:6-9).
As a friend just emailed me about yesterday's events: "God's got this."
The reading also shows that even Abraham, the father of our faith, struggled to do what is right in this sinful world. He lies to protect himself. He fails in his role as father. Seeing his sin helps us see our own sin and appreciate God's amazing grace to him and to us.
It is this amazing grace that unites us as children of our heavenly Father. It is amazing grace that enables us to join together in prayer especially today: :
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one" Matthew 6:9-13).
Help for your children
St. Paul's member Nikki Timm works in a local school district and sent this good counsel to help our children cope with the events of the last day. I thought many of you might find it useful.
The following are some guidelines to keep in mind when responding to student responses/concerns:
- Be a good listener and honor student voices.
- Respond calmly and compassionately.
- Help them identify/understand their feelings and that it is okay to feel sad, angry, upset etc.
- Answer questions simply and honestly. (It is okay to say you "don't know" something).
- Reassure safety.
- Focus on positivity and encourage students to identify/use positive coping strategies.
Father, let us be loving to those who think differently than we do. Father, make us look like you. Amen.
Your brother in Christ,