It’s not typical, but for some reason it seems appropriate and warranted to offer a response to the Aurora, Colorado tragedy today, as many of my clergy colleagues have done. Matt Lauer was the one who told me this morning that another senseless and violent massacre had occurred, this time in Aurora, Colorado. And after a night of much needed cleansing rain, the waters of hope for humanity have again been muddied by the actions of one.
Status updates throughout the day have included posts expressing anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, empathy, worry, disgust and more.  We are all asking questions that begin with “why.”  If only we had answers. A handful of UE students live in Aurora, but as far as we know, they are all safe. However, UE student, Eric Stoessel has a good friend who was critically injured in the shooting. Eric asks for your prayers for his friend, Javier.

I believe God is weeping with us today. I believe God’s desire for the cosmos is peace which includes the hammering of swords into plow shares.

When violence goes viral in our world, for some reason I often think of that scene in West Side Story where street gangs stand in the rubble left over from a “rumble,” and they sing these words:

There’s a time for us; Someday a time for us;
Time together with time to spare;
Time to learn, time to care.
Someday, somewhere—
We’ll find a new way of living,
We’ll find a way of forgiving.

In every age, human beings dream of a future when there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more disease, and no more guns. In a wrong world, we imagine right.

In the meantime, we are being called to exercise the rituals of our faith. So, we light candles, say prayers, walk in processions, and gather in circles. In the face of chaos and destruction and pain, our traditions can offer comfort. Watch in the coming days as people process to Cinema 16 in Aurora, Colorado with flowers, and candles, and teddy bears. Somehow when words are not sufficient, ritual gets us through the darkness.

Holy God,
We cannot imagine the heartache felt by the people in Aurora. Perhaps most of all, we struggle to understand the violent, inexplicable actions of another. In these difficult times, God, remain our strength, our consolation, and our hope. As we grieve with them, we pray for the families who are experiencing absolute horror. Even as reluctant as we might be to pray for the gunman, God, we ask for solace for his family. Help us all to live beyond violence, commit to a world free from hatred, and cling to the hope which sometimes comes to us in a still, small voice. Cause us to walk with others as we face the future unafraid.  Amen.

- Tamara K. Gieselman, University Chaplain