No doubt you are as dismayed and broken-hearted as I am about the recent shooting in Pittsburgh, on Shabbat in the Tree of Life of Synagogue. We have learned that 11 persons have died. These losses are unspeakably tragic. I ask your prayers for the victims’ families, those who were wounded, and for the entire congregation and community of the Tree of Life. I ask your prayers for the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. We opened the church last evening for prayer and mourning in solidarity with them, and with the Jewish community there, here, and around the world. One of my colleagues, the Rev. Maren Tirabassi, a UCC pastor and writer, wrote a beautiful prayer for Pittsburgh based on Psalm 61.
Here is her prayer.
Prayer for Pittsburgh
God, we ask your presence
among the death at the Tree of Life –
for those shocked and mourning —
for the wounded — healers,
for the fearful who shelter in place —
the fragile presence
of phone and internet support,
for those active in policing
in emergency care,
and gathering to offer
emotional support and counseling —
deep strength within themselves.
For we ask, with the psalmist,
that you set them on the rock
that is higher than fear,
become a refuge within and without,
a strong tower, enfolding tent,
and a shelter under your wings
for the aftermath of loss
and the crying to come. amen
Here are some of the verses from the Psalm:
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
2 From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
3 for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
4 Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings.Selah
5 For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name…
8 So I will always sing praises to your name,
as I pay my vows day after day.
On this Reformation Sunday, perhaps you might also join me in prayers for a reformation of action to change the climate of hatred we find ourselves living in, including the reform of gun laws.
Here is an article from The New York Times, with more on those who died.