Richard Groves

October 22nd, 2023

His story is tragically familiar. He lost his entire family – only his wife survived. His home was destroyed. His business. His body and spirit were broken. But he still had friends, and they reached out to him.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all the troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home . . . . They met together to go and console and comfort him. But when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept . . . . They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. (Job 2:11-13)

Almighty God, from whom we come, to whom we go, in whose presence we live and move and have our being:

Like Job’s friends we have been stunned into silence by the devastation and suffering we have witnessed, brought on once again by the savagery of war.

Our minds cannot grasp what our hearts must embrace.

For we have witnessed evil that we didn’t know was possible so naive were we in our estimate of what humans are capable of.

“The sins of the parents are (indeed) visited on the children and on the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34: 6-7)

We witness in silence.

And we pray, not because it is Sunday and that is what we do, bubecause we don’t know what else to do.

We pray, above all, that your will would be done on earth, this

beautiful, bountiful earth that you gave us, which we have subdivided into plots marked Mine and stand guard over and kill to protect, because it is ours, our name is on it, our ancestors are buried here, our flag is at its center, and it is ours.

This earth, this holy land stained once more with the blood of your children. 

Deliver the innocents – the festival-goers, the dancers, the children, the babies, the elderly desperately looking for their medications. Deliver the innocents of Israel and Gaza and Ukraine; deliver them from evil.

Give them bread for today wherever among the rubble they can find it. And water. And electricity. And fuel for their generators.

Deliver us from evil. The doing of it. The allowing of it.  The praise of it.

Forgive us. O God, forgive us. Our debts are so great. They compound with every generation. They bankrupt our souls. We owe . . . . We owe the children. A childhood. Playgrounds. Memories pleasant. An earth beautiful and bountiful. A world without terror.  A world without war.

Forgive us.

For without forgiveness, Archbishop Tutu has taught us, there is no future. Not for our families. Not for our community. Not for our country. Not for our world.

Comfort those, all those, who mourn.

Show mercy to those who have somehow found it in their hearts to show mercy.

Give strength to those who, against all odds, work for peace.

In our silence, hear our prayers formed not in tightly thought out, theologically sound sentences but exhaled in sighs too deep for words.

Hear our prayers as Jesus taught us to pray: Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.