I must admit that I am not riveted to the news broadcasts coming out of Las Vegas this morning after the horrific shooting there last night. Not because I don’t care, but because I care too much. I am aware that knowing a few facts are important – that there were people killed and injured, that there is so much fear and chaos hanging over the city – these shape my prayers. But I wonder what good knowing the details will do me a thousand miles away.
I have heeded the wisdom of those who pay attention to the effect of obsessing over news stories or news cycles or news in general on our health, like this article from Psychology Today. I limit my viewing so that I have energy to do something productive in the areas of my life where I have some measure of control. (I found this article interesting as well.)
Last night, for example, I was participating in one of the most uplifting multiracial, multidenominational worship services Savannah has ever seen. I am working with the Faith Community Council of the Urban Savannah Chamber of Commerce and we knew after the events in Charlottesville last month that our city and our world needed prayer. Not the kind of prayer we could each do separately in our own congregations but the kind of prayer that put us all in the same room.
We chose “World Communion Sunday” – which my church celebrates, but not all churches involved. We all stepped out of our traditional boxes, and I’m sure there were times when each person felt comfortable and others where we were each decidedly uncomfortable. It felt like what church is meant to be every time we worship!
At first it brought me way down to think that while I was singing “How Great is Our God” and “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place,“ there was a man plotting to kill people in Las Vegas. For all I know, there was a man or woman platting to kill people somewhere right in Savannah. If I’m honest, this does still bother me.
But I am also going to choose to let it bring me up – up into the arms of Jesus, I hope – to know that while people were plotting to kill others in Las Vegas and Savannah and who knows where else, that we were singing and praying and worshiping God and telling hard truths about racism and violence and hatred in our city and our world. We were admitting to ourselves and others that it is far easier for us to be a part of the problems of the world than a part of the solutions.
I pray that we will have many more ecumenical and cross-racial services in Savannah. After last night, that seems to be a prayer that God will give us the energy to answer. I also pray that there will never again be a shooting like there was in Las Vegas. I am a little less sure that prayer will be answered the way I hope in the time I hope, but I have no doubt that God is bringing us toward that day.
I will not obsess over the news – I will obsess over making good things happen in my community as best I can. I hope you will join me!
Are you praying for the people in Las Vegas, as well as all the others affected by recent natural and man-made disasters? Do you feel confident your prayers are heard and answered? If you are a church-goer, does it seem appropriate to you that I say being both comfortable and uncomfortable in church is important to me? This is a much more Christian post than some I have written. If you are not a Christian, do the ideas here still have relevance for how you deal with news of tragedies around the world? Everyone, what do you do when disasters strike in communities far from yours? Do you watch the news; do you step away to care for yourself? What are you doing in your community to assist with disasters that have happened or to work to prevent them?
All the bad news in the world can lead us to feeling depressed and helpless. If you need help thinking what you can do in your community, consider a free first consultation with Openings: Let the Spirit In. One-on-one spiritual direction or a group retreat will help clarify your direction.