Thursday, February 15, 2018

Opening Prayer For the Colorado State House in the Aftermath of a Tragedy February 15, 2018

Our God and God of all people,
God of the Rich and God of the poor.
God of the teacher and God of the student.
God of the families who wait in horror.
God of the dispatcher who hears screams of terror from under bloodied desks.
God of the first responder who bravely creeps through ravaged hallways. 
God of the doctor who treats the wounded.
God of the rabbi, pastor, imam or priest who seeks words of comfort but comes up empty.
God of the young boy who sees his classmates die in front of him.
God of the weeping, raging, inconsolable mother who screams at the sight of her child’s lifeless body .
God of the shattered communities torn apart by senseless violence.
God of the legislators paralyzed by fear, partisanship, money and undue influence.
God of the Right.
God of the Left.
God who hears our prayers.
God who does not answer.
On this tragic day when we confront the aftermath of the 18th School shooting in our nation on the 46th day of this year, I do not feel like praying.
Our prayers have not stopped the bullets.
Our prayers have changed nothing.
Once again, a disturbed man with easy access to guns has squinted through the sights of a weapon, aimed, squeezed a trigger and taken out his depraved anger, pain and frustration on innocents:  pure souls. Students and teachers. Brothers and sisters. Mothers and fathers- cut down in an instant by the power of hatred and technology.
We are guilty, O God.
We are guilty of inaction.
We are guilty of complacency.
We are guilty of allowing ourselves to be paralyzed by politics.
The blood of our children cries out from the ground.
The blood of police officers cut down in the line of duty flows through our streets.
I do not appeal to You on this terrible morning to change us. We can only do that ourselves.
Our enemies do not come only from far away places.
The monsters we fear live among us.
May those in this room who have the power to to make change find the courage to seek a pathway to sanity and hope.
May we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable.
Only then will our prayers be worthy of an answer.

AMEN

98 comments:

  1. kol hakavod! - Rabbi Sami Barth

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    1. Thank you Rabbi Sami Barth for verbalizing what's in my heart

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  2. Thank you for this prayer. I am taking the liberty of sending to Senator Marco Rubio with my comments this morning. Blessings to you. Peggy Davis

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  3. Thank you Rabbi Black. You have captured what is in the hearts and minds of much of the world this morning.

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  4. Send this to Donald Trump. When will he realize the enemy is within, and will not be vanquished by some ridiculous wall!

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    1. Barbara...will trump read it? Not so sure. He only hears words of the rich and powerful, like the lobbyists. If only these words could make a difference. I pray they do.

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    2. Thank you,Rabbi. From your mouth to our leaders ears. Amen.

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    3. Bless you for this wisdom and this eloquence. I will share this, and say thank you.

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    4. Oh Rabbi your words have reached me, and implore me to speak out, to keep speaking out, until the murders have stopped.

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    5. Barbara, we can't hold our President accountable for every bad thing that happens in our country. I understand you're calliing for gun control laws to be stricter, and I agree. I don't know of anyone in my circle who doesn't agree. But there's more to it than that, as proven by the number of gun murders in Chicago. The application process needs to be more in depth. AR's need to be outlawed for private citizens to purchase or own. And parents need to raise their children with love and discipline to be secure enough to tough some things out, or seek council with parents or school teachers, counsellors, etc. if they feel threatened of bullied. Parents need to take the responsibility of raising the child they brought into the world. They need to become involved in their kids' lives and set ground rules within the family. I know, this is far fetched, as there are too many who have no clue. I pray for our future generations...

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    6. BSC--I appreciate your response. But, I do think that as the "leader of the free world" our president, whoever it may be--needs to look out for and provide safety and leadership for all the people rich, poor, old, young, immigrant or natural-born American, etc -- BUT our current president appears to devote much more time to his personal needs and preferences, rather than those that will protect our citizens and give them the tools to grow and cherish their lives here in the U.S. There are millions that are so disillusioned with the actions and words of a person whom I have chosen to refer to as our Faux president, as he shows little genuine concern for the needs of the majority of people, and appears to be stubbornly self-interested - and ego driven.

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    7. I have shared this on Facebook, hoping it reach the ears of those who need to hear. Yasher Koach, Rabbi Black.

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    8. Do you not realize that the former president had control of both houses and was pres. for 8 long years and did nothing? Maybe, finally, like so many other things that this Pres. has had to clean up, something will get done so that this won't happen again. Plus, continue to pray and never stop!

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    9. No. There was a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate only for the first TWO years of President Obama's presidency. After that Republicans held the House.

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    10. Yes by all means let's bicker about the last president, the current president, the makeup of Congress. That will help for sure. Keep doing what you're doing, keep getting what you're getting.

      Here's an idea: I bet if we stopped name-calling and actually held discourse on this issue, we would find a lot of common ground.

      Blaming one person (the President) for this is preposterous. When you point your finger, your other fingers point right back at you. Try listening and thinking, not name-calling and blaming. This is a multi-faceted issue that can't be solved with just one tool, or by just one person.

      Never stop praying.

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    11. By population -- Chicago is not the top of the heap for murders. Try Baltimore, or Alaska... Just because Trump decided to pick on us, doesn't make us worse -- we are better than many cities and states - it's just with our population, the numbers are easy to make look worse. Illinois as a whole and Chicago are both more towards the middle of gun violence, not at the top.

      Although, with it being so easy to buy guns in Indiana and bring them across the border, it's hard to control guns in Chicago, we are trying. Unfortunately, we can't build a wall to keep gun-smuggling Hoosiers out.

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  5. May I share your prayer (always b'shem omro)?
    kol hakavod.

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    1. I am going to share your prayer as well. It makes me want to cry. Thank you for allowing us to share it.

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    2. You have said it all -- and very eloquently. Thank you!

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  6. You give trump too much credit—remember, he doesn’t read.

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  7. Yashir koach. I’ll be sharing.
    Wishing you and your family well.

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  8. Thank you Rabbi.
    The most passionate, eloquent call to action. I live a block from the school and your words say what I feel. That you and thank you allowing me to share your amazing message to my friends, family, and my broken community. I will continue to encourage the social change necessary to end this senseless carnage.
    Thank you again
    Richard Kushnick
    Parkland, FL

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  9. This resonates. Thank you for posting.

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  10. Yashar Koach to you rabbi. I pray your prayer resonates with those who are given the responsibility of making real change.

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    1. The responsibility for making real change lies with the voters who continue to vote people into Congress who do nothing to change this situation. We are responsible. This isn't the first time this kind of tragedy has occurred and voters still voted these people into office. We need to take responsibility and make it clear in the voting booth that we will not tolerate this any longer.

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  11. The most eloquent, heartfelt prayer that says what is in all of our hearts--all of our hearts except those in Washington.

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  12. This is a moving prayer which I'm sure our Father will hear. But I am a lot like you, Rabbi, when you say, "I do not feel like praying." Sadness and anger combine. Change must happen. I believe it starts with us.
    Thank you for posting this.

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  13. Amen. And thank you from a fellow clergy person who is struggling to comfort her people.

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  14. In all sincerity, wow.

    Amen, and Amen.
    So Mote It Be.

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  15. Rabbi, I agreed with your prayer until this line: I do not appeal to You on this terrible morning to change us. We can only do that ourselves.

    The Truth is that we cannot change ourselves. Only God can change us. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came to bring us new life. Isaiah 53:3-6 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. And we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. John 3:16-21 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment; the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

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    1. Thank you for this comment. I agree completely. I could not change myself but God changed me from within through Jesus, the Christ.

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    2. Dear Unknown, Perhaps in the zale of religiousity the point was missed-FREE will & choice. Our loving God does not force decisions, even upon Christians such as the current GOP Legislators- most of whom are self professed "Pro-life" Christians whose fruits reveal their true gods.

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    3. Thank you for clearly sharing the only answer.

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    4. I read what the Rabbi is saying as related to the free will that God gave us. Of course, God changes us. He changes by being in us, around us, under us and over us AS WE act in his name. We bear the responsibility for discerning what that faithful action should be. We are NOT to sit by and think God is going to reach down with a magic wand and change us or change the situation. WE ARE TO ACT in His name on what is right and not sit by and wait.

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    5. Shame on you Unknown, for proselytizing to this good and sincere Rabbi. You are not God's emissary. Mind your own self. A fellow gentile

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    6. Thank you Donna. I felt the same way. Everything is not about Jesus... and Jesus would say the same thing.

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  16. Excellent. Congratulations. Speaking clear truth to power.

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  17. Amen! Thank-you Rabbi Joe Black! That prayer says it all! Amen again!

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  18. These are powerful words. Thank you for your eloquence and wisdom. I will share to my page. I live in Albuquerque, a city with a tremendous problem with gun violence.

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  19. If these words were gold, Trump would listen...

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  20. Thank you for this. I would like to use it as my drash tomorrow night at Congregation P'nai Tikvah in Las Vegas.

    Jamie Hyams
    Rabbinical intern

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  21. I take issue only with the title this prayer has been given. Deliberate mass murder is more than a "tragedy."

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  22. God of the Good Guy with the Legal Concealed Weapon who stopped the Bad Guy with the illegal murder weapon, Amen.

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    1. God of the narrow minded who twist truth & facts to propel their own self centered rigid opinions at the expense of children

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  23. Thank you for articulating our grief, confusion and necessary striving. So be it.

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  26. Thank you Rabbi Black for your eloquent words and for your courage to speak truth to power. I am grateful for your leadership.

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    1. Thank you Lisa - your support means more to me than you can know.

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  27. We are living end time events, it will all come to fruition, and then Jesus will come and put a stop to all Evil and it shall not rise up again, this is a battle between good and evil, the Good will win in the end, JESUS IS COMING SOON.

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  28. Christians and Christianists - could we, just for a moment in time - grieve together as a nation "under one God" and not demand that our understanding of God through Christ be pounded into the conversation? Just for moment? You know, I really think Jesus is okay with that, especially being that he was Jewish. Please consider holding off evangelizing, just for a moment, and join together with fellow Americans of all faiths and no faith to mourn. Thank you - A fellow Christian.

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    1. Thank You Katie. By whatever name we call “the entity who made all things” be that entity male, female, genderless, sentient or not, may we please just mourn the loss of these precious children AND then go DO something to try to stop it from happening again.

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  29. Thank you for speaking truth to power.

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  30. Thank you for giving me the words that I was unable to find.

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  31. The second to the last line reads: "May we hold ourselves and our leaders accountable." Rabbi Black uses the word "leaders" just as most of us would. I want to point out that the more appropriate word is "elected representatives." This distinction is important because when we hold ourselves accountable, then we are not followers and those who make laws are not leaders. Rather, we lead and they serve us. We must hold ourselves and our elected representatives accountable for allowing the sale of rapid-fire, large magazine weapons, their ammunition and devices such as bump stocks for increasing the rate these weapons can be fired. They are manufactured for just one purpose: to kill many people very quickly. We must also work diligently to change the climate of violence that pervades our country. We must admit that we are a violent people and endeavor to change that in our public policies and in our entertainment, which so often glorifies violence rather than negotiation as a solution to differences.

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  32. I was late to the Capitol this morning and unfortunately missed your prayer. Thank you for sharing and thank you for your words.

    -Danny

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  33. Thank you, Rabbi Joe Black
    Your prayer language , hit all the marks. I wasn't able to.
    We have to do something . To stop this. We have to hold our elected officials responsible. How do we.
    We have to be a United Nation!!!
    We don't have a choice. Thank you, May God Bless our Nation, the families the families

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  35. Thank you, Rabbi Black. A colleague shared your eloquent prayer and call to action on a list serve to which I also belong. I have taken the liberty of sending it out to our entire Wayne State University School of Social Work community.

    Jerry Brandell
    Interim Dean
    Wayne State University
    School of Social Work
    Detroit, MI

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  36. I have shared your prayer as well. I hope you are invited to Washington DC to pray like this, even to ears that will not listen. Rabbi, your words are a power in themselves and carry us further back to when we were more forward than now. Thank you.

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  37. Thank you Rabbi Black. Well said.

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  38. If we want to change things, we must go to the polls and VOTE! Action, not talk, not thoughts, not prayers. VOTE!

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  40. This prayer is powerful and beautiful. At the same time one line stopped my breath..."the blood of police officers cut down in the line of duty..." Where is the pain and conviction around state sanctioned violence against black and brown men, women and children? Let us commit to a full understanding of gun violence.

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  41. Thank you, Rabbi. For stating plain truth.

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  43. Thank you Rabbi, you made me cry.

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  44. Thank you Rabbi, very thought provoking prayer.

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  45. As Albert Einstein said "Je ne suis pas très juif." I have never been more proud of my roots than I am having read this prayer and felt it resonate throughout my heart/mind and my being. Thank you, rabbi. May the God of peace bring peace to all who seek peace. Stay strong. Shalom.

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  46. Thank you for this beautiful prayer. I believe it captures the anguish and crushing sadness felt by many while challenging us to be accountable. And thank you for your courage to speak truth to power.

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  47. "From the Rabbi's mouth to G-d's ears"!!!!!

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  48. This cry from the heart will be shared at my congregation, Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Littleton, CO where the victims of another school shooting lay open again like a wound.

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  49. Prayer offered and flowing from heart and mind. Amen and amen.

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  50. Thank you Rabbi. Cantor Marcy Kadin shared this with us at Temple Beth Am in Pearl River, NY at Shabbat services this past Friday evvening. Hashem's ears are always open. We need to open the ears and close the coffers of our elected representatives. Failing that, we need to CHANGE OUR VOTES!

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  51. Wealthy Republican donor Al Hoffman is answering your prayers. He is refusing to pack any candidate who does not publicly state support of bans on assault rifle’s. Let’s hope your prayer gets through too many and pushes an end to the insanity. L’Sholom.

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  52. Thank you for this- it is exactly what we need to hear to make change. We are the community and the embrace and change to rid ourselves of the gun violence.

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  53. Eloquent and powerful. Don't suppose there's any way to get this read to Congress. I'm sending a request to my local Congress critter to do just that.

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  54. I'm Canadian, living in Canada, but I will post this to my Facebook page because our country mourns for your losses and rages against the terrible gun laws in the U.S. I pray that letters like yours and the cries of the student survivors may somehow, this time, penetrate the deafness of the NRA sycophants.

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  55. This is a truly beautiful reflection, R. Black. It is raw and sincere and comes from a kind, beautiful, compassionate soul. We all have the right to be bitter and angry and full of theological doubt and uncertainty at times such as this. But as we slowly emerge from the rawness of what happened, I have a theological suggestion. Reform Judaism affirms a good deal of doubt about whether God, whether in response to petitionary prayer or by God's own initiative, can or does make physical changes in the world around us or directly alter the course of world events. But Reform and Conservative Judaism have tended to affirm that one of the ways God *can* interact with the observable universe is indirectly, by inspiring and impacting and changing rational beings such as humans. Sometimes we can change ourselves, but often the extra spark comes from God. God can help us to change and grow and improve, and often petitionary prayer works because we have to want and be open to such help in order for it to take hold in our lives. I don't think we should lose that sense from our Reform theological tradition, but I fear that's where we're headed. We have to be open to divine help at least in our interior lives if not more.

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  56. Thank you for saying this. People who are ignorant to the fact that the same old same old won’t change anything are it helping a thing. My hope is that the kids of the school in Parkland continue the activism and the movement they have started, vote as soon as their age allows them to and that they also encourage friends to. Their encouragement to fellow generation -Z’s and the Millenium generation (the younger ones) are the generation that will make a difference. Right now they are so tired of the negative politics they are the lowest percentile to typically vote. We need to get those numbers up. Once the percentage of national VOTING is increased changed will come. Only then

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