We have watched the Middle East explode in violence. ISIS in Iraq is slaughtering Christians. Our brother in Christ The Rev. Andrew White, the Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, is continuing to minister to the few Christians left and is desperately giving voice to the horror in his midst.
We have watched the violence erupt between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. Given the support of the United States, Israel's ability to annihilate the Palestinians is very real. The relationships between Israel and the Palestinians is complicated, to be sure yet neither side is innocent. Just because Israel gives the Palestinians in Gaza 24 hour notice that their neighborhood will be bombed into oblivion doesn't mean they are somehow more "humane" than Hamas. The 29 disabled children and 9 elderly women being cared for at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church in Zeitun could not evacuate prior to the planned bombing. Regardless of whether the church was hit or not, this was an act of war and terror against the powerless and vulnerable. My government and tax dollars are complicit in this war.
This week, we have watched Ferguson Missouri explode in racial violence. Regardless of who started what, another unarmed black teen is dead. On the heels of this, police in riot gear escalating the protest into violence ... shooting rubber bullets at a female pastor praying - unarmed, hands up and invoking the name of Jesus.
There is horror and helplessness sitting side by side for me today. The problems bigger than anything I can do. I am outraged and pained to witness such suffering ... and standing without the power, influence or expertise to do anything but cry out to God. Lament is all there is left and we do not do this well in our culture.
Habakkuk, who prophesied to the Israelites before the Babylonian exile, opens his oracle with these words:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous— therefore judgment comes forth perverted.How long, O Lord? Indeed ... how long ...