Over the past several days, two significant events have impacted the lives of people in New Zealand and right here in Iowa. On Friday, at least fifty people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch, and more than fifty others were injured. It was the most horrific mass killing in the modern history of New Zealand, which is one of the safest and most highly developed countries in the world. The alleged perpetrator, an apparent white right-wing extremist from Australia, was taken into custody. As Christians, we deplore violence of any kind, especially when it is directed against Muslims or any other religious group. We join people of faith the world over who are praying for the families of victims and all others whose lives have forever been changed because of this tragedy.
We also know that severe flooding this week has adversely affected thousands of people across Iowa. As I write this, there have just been levee breeches near Hamburg and Bartlett, and the levee on the Missouri River has been topped. Hundreds of people have been evacuated throughout the state, and the effects of the flooding on our farmers and other industries will be significant. Yet, in the midst of grief, fear, and deep loss, God promises to be with us.
Loving God, in the midst of darkness, you call forth light.
Be our guide, that we may not be afraid to walk where no light shines.
You fill your creation with hope for peace,
but you also remind us of the capacity for human evil
as well as nature’s destructive power.
Shelter us in the midst of storms,
that we may offer shelter to those around us.
May we show forth the light of your glory
by offering ourselves in love to all who are hurting,
and all who are helping those who hurt.
When all we have is taken away, still you hold us as your very own.
Blessed are you, Lord God of the universe, now and forever. Amen.