Another shooting … Lord have mercy!!!
Late Sunday evening, I read on the internet about the shooting on the Danforth. Immediately we were concerned and worried because that is the very neighborhood that Nathaniel lives in. He often frequents the very corner where this tragedy had taken place. Thankfully, we reached him quickly and knew he was at home and safe.
There has been so much gun violence in Toronto recently and each time something happens we grieve yet again what is happening so close to home. This case, though, had another element that struck me as I thought about it … the Danforth has always been such a safe place … families enjoy leisurely strolls through Greek Town … it’s a quiet neighborhood … friends enjoy drinks and dinner on one of the many patios or in one of the restaurants. This is not a neighborhood where one might expect something like this to happen … a random shooting spree.
There were many tragedies that night … the loss of life for those who died; the witnessing of such a tragedy by bystanders walking along the road; the thought, “that could easily have been me”; those who were injured and survived and yet won’t forget that moment when they were struck down; the business owners who open their doors everyday; those who live near by on the quiet side streets whose neighborhood doesn’t feel quite as safe as it did last week; the emergency workers who respond with vigilance and do their best and yet feel the effects of the trauma; the community leaders who respond to questions and themselves wonder “why??”; the average citizen of Toronto and further afield even to here in Uxbridge because if this could happen in that part of Toronto, it could happen anywhere.
And in the midst of all of that, what is our response? Someone said, “All I can do is pray for safety”. And, that is true for sure. Yet I know even myself, I wonder if maybe those very people who were most affected had prayed for their own safety. It’s easy to get into the spiral of cynicism about our faith, prayer and for some even God himself.
I personally struggle at times because I don’t have an answer either as to why these things happen even though we pray for safety and protection by God from harm. And in truth, there is no answer that is adequate. So, we live with the tension and reality of that conundrum that is perplexing.
And yet, what does it mean to be faithful in such a time as this, in the midst of the struggle and all the emotions we feel. Jesus calls us to pray and encourages us to pray and to never stop praying. That’s what I hold on to because what else can we do? Jesus says “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7: 7, “New Living Translation”)
I often say to people, always, always, always tell God what you are feeling; keep the lines of communication open with God, especially when we are disappointed or angry or frustrated with God. God has broad shoulders; God can take what we say or yell at Him; God wants us to keep talking with Him even when we don’t really like what is happening to us or around us, even when we may want to blame God for what was done, or left undone.
Even though I can’t and don’t understand why these kind of things happened as they did on Sunday night, prayer is the only thing I can turn to. Left to our own, without looking to God for hope in the future, things will only get worst. Yes, our faith is complex on many levels. And yet so simple on other levels.
So, we can question God; we can feel angry with God; we can even doubt God. But God is and always will be faithful and desire to be in relationship with us. My prayer is that nothing will lead us to lose that hope, that faith and that trust.
A friend shared these comments on my facebook post which I share with you.
“I am not sure what to make of this. A psychotic man gets a gun and kills people. But most psychotic people are harmless– I have worked among them. An Arab man shoots people at random: but most Arab immigrants never do anything nearly so destructive. A popular stretch of sidewalks and stores become places of murder. But this is the first time this has happened and may be the last.
Lesson? Don’t generalize, no matter how shocking the incident. I was on that stretch of the Danforth last night and the only inconvenience I suffered was being blocked from an interaction by the news crews. Grieve? Yes, if you are truly sad. Get angry? Yes, but be careful where you aim your anger. Avoid that part of Toronto and be suspicious of people who live there? You have to be kidding. Lose hope? Never–take a walk or a drive through the scene where it happened, and realize that you are still alive and uninjured. Thank God for that.”
Indeed … thank God for that!!!
I offer us this prayer as we each feel heavy hearts and troubled spirits in light of the shooting on the Danforth this past Sunday evening …
In peace we pray…
For a community shaken by gunfire
For the injured; For the dead
For first responders, police, fire and ambulance;
for those who work in the hospitals
where the injured were sent for treatment;
for community leaders,
especially the mayor and police chief;
for all who live in this neighborhood
and those who enjoy leisure along this street;
for those whose safety and sense of security is shaken;
For all who are trying to make sense of the senseless;
Encircle in your tender embrace all who grieve;
Comfort all who are afraid;
for the young man who fired his gun
and for his family;
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.
Remember, if you have a question, I encourage you to send it to me in an email and I will do my best to answer it either in a weekly update or in a sermon.
As always, my inbox is open, and so is my office door if you’d like to chat. I’m usually in my office most mornings Monday through Thursday unless otherwise announced due to a meeting. Stop by or make an appointment!
Take care and have a blessed day and week!
The Rev. Canon Mark Kinghan