Prayer for the Victims of the Tornado in Moore, Oklahoma

Heartbroken by the news from Moore, Oklahoma. Children dead. Homes destroyed. The pictures are devastating. For those of us not near enough to do anything to directly aid the recovery efforts, all we can do is pray.

Here is a prayer adapted from one prepared for another natural disaster:

Almighty God,
We know that your thoughts are not our thoughts,
and your ways are not our ways.
Keep all who have been afflicted by this tornado from despair.
Sustain and comfort them.
Direct ongoing efforts to attend the injured,
console the bereaved,
and protect the helpless.
Deliver any who are still in danger.
Bring hope and healing that we may find relief and restoration.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord,
Amen.

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Thoughts on 42

Last night I saw 42, the film about the entry of Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball. It is not a great film – there are plenty of flaws in it – but it is a good one for people – especially young people – to see.

Children, teens, even young adults have always known integrated ball teams, as they have always known blacks and whites drinking out of the same water fountain, eating at the same restaurants, and sitting next to each other on buses and trains. Without minimizing the continued existence of racial (and other forms of) discrimination, the world is a very different place than it was in 1947, when Jackie Robinson came to play ball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Or even a decade later.

It is almost impossible to imagine what it was like for Robinson. To face jeers, taunts, threats and to take them without fighting back. From opponents, fans and his teammates.

Seeing the cruelty he endured because he dared to seek to play ball with whites, was difficult. But seeing it is a good reminder of how cruel “good” people can be. (The scene where a young white boy mimics his father in shouting “go home nigger” makes the point powerfully.) It is an important thing to remember.

The film also invites us to look more broadly at the ways we minimize others who are outsiders – either by our own actions or by our failures to act when others behave badly.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way God’s universe is made; this is the way it is structured.