Monday, September 23, 2013

Praying for Kenya

Once again we are shocked by the senseless violence and killing of innocent people, this time in Kenya where armed criminals entered a Westgate shopping centre on Saturday afternoon, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. There are varying reports of how many people have died. The Somali militant group al-Shabab with links to al-Qaeda, has said it carried out the attack (confirming this on their Twitter feed). Al-Shabab has carried out a string of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenyan troops moved into southern Somalia to fight the militants there. This escalation of violence and attacks is very concerning, and we all grieve the tragic loss of so many lives.

Security forces surround the shopping centre
the charred cross - a symbol of defiant and audacious hope!
While exploring information about the ELCK, and the work of the ELCK deaconesses, I was interested in an article I read about a small church in the slums of Nairobi with Pastor Dennis Meeker, and his wife, Lorna Meeker, an ELCK Deaconess. The church had been looted and partially burned during the unrest in January 08 (post-election). The sanctuary is still functional. The charred cross remains on the wall behind the altar. The wall still holds the black and white marks of fire. The plan is to leave it as is - as a reminder that Christ is victorious - He is risen and no matter what darkness overtakes us, Christ is our stronghold. It gives great comfort to those who see it. What a brilliant symbol to hold before the church as it gathers for worship, and especially in times of great upheaval and violence. We can trust in Christ.

Please pray for peace in Kenya, and for the National Deaconess Association of ELCK (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya).  

A prayer in the wake of the shootings in Kenya (adapted from a resource by Rev Mindi) praying for Kenya, and for ourselves as we respond to the news from Kenya.

(Based upon Psalm 23)
Shepherding God, You are the one who leads us into life. In the wake of the shootings, lead us away from fear and revenge and instead to the still waters and green pastures of love, grace, and peace. Guide, and guard, our hearts so that we might not react out of anger and hatred ourselves, but out of love for humanity that comes from Your love. Lead us in the paths of righteousness and justice for Your name’s sake.
Even though we walk through the darkness of bombings, of shootings, of war in our world—the shadow of death looms near—we will not let fear overtake us. We will not fear evil in this world, for You are with us as a shepherd is with his sheep. You are comforting us as a mother comforts a hurt child.  We feel your hand on our shoulder as we walk through these dark days.
In the presence of those who hate, You are preparing the table of love for us.  You bless the ones who love and call us to be transforming love in the world, so that even the ones who hate will be transformed by Your love.  Our blessings overflow because of the love You have shown through our reaching out to one another—through the acts of kindness, the caring strangers, the daring first responders, the solidarity of compassionate  human beings.
Surely goodness and mercy will be with all of us all the days of our life.  Surely goodness and mercy will overflow and overwhelm any acts of evil in this world. Surely goodness and mercy will overcome the world, and we will dwell in the love of God forever.  Amen.

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