Words fail me as I have tried to write a response to the shootings in Squirrel Hill on Saturday. I want to express deep sorrow for the pain that the families of those who were killed and the whole Jewish community are experiencing during these days of mourning. I want to explain that those of us who follow Jesus renounce the anti-Semitic hatred of the shooter. I want to reach out in some sort of solidarity. All of my words, however, are completely inadequate. So, like Job's friends, who were at their wisest when they held their tongues, I've said little and sat in my grief.
But, we need to find words. We need to have a conversation as a whole society. We need to recognize that we, as a people, are broken and fragmented. We need to change. If it is true that “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets,” then what does it say about our culture that we have gotten 11 people killed in worship and 14 unexploded pipe bombs?
The system, our culture, must change. But, how? The voices within it have predictable answers. But, what if we recognized that doing more of what we are doing will only get us more of what we are getting? What if we started with lament, with crying out to God; admitting that no answer to our current insanity exists within our current cultural/political system?
What if we prayed? Here’s a place to start:
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Psalm 120:1,2).
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1,2).
"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!" (Psalm 130:1).
"Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy."
We need the Lord to give us a wisdom that is only available beyond our current dichotomies, a wisdom from above, from outside the system. Until we ask, however, we will continue to produce the same outcomes. And the cycle of death, shock, outrage, blaming, and inaction will continue.
Lord, have mercy.