Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Imagine Peace

I was walking down 7th Street in Chinatown yesterday when a large banner caught my attention. The sidewalks were busy, and not many people seemed to notice what was hanging on the side of the Verizon Center. Still, the words on the sign caught my attention:

The sign was designed by Yoko Ono after September 11. It has hung in different places around our nation. Its words are most appropriate for a nation that is mourning. I am not sure when it was first hung at the Verizon Center - if it is something that went up a long time ago or just this week - but the words make me imagine peace - they make me imagine a world that is much different than the one in which we live. The words are yet another call to prayer for me.

Gracious and loving God,
we pray for the people of Virginia Tech
and the entire community of Blacksburg, Virginia.
Our hearts are raw and aching in the wake of the tragedy that occurred on Monday morning.
We cannot imagine such a thing happening on a college campus in a quaint community.
We cannot imagine any one person having the capacity to take so many innocent lives.
But now we do not have to imagine it - for it has happened.
Violence has rocked a campus, ending the lives of 32 individuals --
men and women who you created in your image.
Men and women who you know by name and who you are so familiar with that you even know the number of hairs on their heads.
We pray for the families of those who have died.
We ask that you would comfort mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers,
grandpas and grandmas, boyfriends and girlfriends, fiances and friends.
Speak tenderly once again your words of eternal life.
Where there is mourning, bring comfort.
Where there is darkness, bring light.
We also pray for the family of Cho Seung Hui.
Please bring comfort to his parents in Centreville, Virginia.
Bring them peace when no answers can be found to their questions.
Protect their business and surround them with love.
We also ask that you comfort the entire Korean community.
Be with them in this time of loss and hurt.
And, Lord, we pray for the entire community of Virginia Tech.
A place called, "Hokie Nation" is now closed for the week.
Please bring comfort and healing during this week.
Allow the individuals who study, teach and work there to find peace in the midst of despair.
Allow people to question, recognizing that answers are hard to find.
Allow people to doubt, only to find your still, small voice in the midst of the doubting.
And in the midst of this loss, may people find you and your promise for eternal life made possible through the life, death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus.
Please also be with college students, administrators, faculty and staff around the world.
Make our places of learning a haven of peace and safety.
Grant parents peace when they send their children to college.
Place a barrier of protection around every student.
You have said, "blessed are the peacemakers."
Make us all peacemakers on this day and in the days to come.

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