Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.
The song’s lyrics on the radio leaped out at me. “That singer is right,” I said to my husband, whose eyes were fixated on the road leading us back home to the slumbering bucolic hills and valleys of Vermont. “Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.”
My husband looked at me strangely, wondering where I’ve been that I had never heard what turned out to be a popular old saying that he knew quite well.
Less than 48 hours later, the saying I had just become acquainted with had sadly been verified. The news broke a peaceful Sunday morning into a million shattering sharp pieces.
2:09 a.m.—A man armed with an assault rifle entered an Orlando night club. Shots fired. 50 reported dead. 50 more injured.
Nope, nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m. Or for that matter, nothing good happens at 9:30 a.m. as we saw in an elementary school in Connecticut; or 9:25 p.m. when news of shooting in Parisian restaurant came our way; or 8 p.m. when we learned of the carnage happening at a Bible study in a Charleston, S.C. church.
I don’t need to go on any further because I’ve made my point. And, anyway, I have to stop for my stomach is getting queasy and my eyes are filling with familiar tears that I have cried one too many times in one too many cases for one too many senseless killings. Nothing good ever happens…at any given time these days, so it seems.
Shortly after news of Orlando seeped into our quiet Sundays, I read a posting on social media blasting the lack of outcry over the lives lost in the dreadful after 2 a.m. hours of the morning. The person cried that the lack of attention given was because those gathered were gathered in a gay nightclub. I’m not discounting that there is some truth to that. But I did disagree with this person because perhaps the lack of outcry was not due to sexual orientation.
Perhaps many were not being vocal because such news has become all too common. Dare I say that we are slowly becoming desensitized to it all. Yes, there is a feeling of anger, of outrage, of fear, of sadness, of confusion. In the midst of all these emotions, though, no one has really addressed or unpacked the most dangerous of all emotions: helplessness, which leads to the No. 1 killer of hope in the world—complacency. And so, silence begins to happen as we sit and wonder, “What can I really do?” and “Does my voice even matter?”
As I skimmed the reactions on social media, I found myself getting perturbed at the postings calling for “prayer for the victims.” And I, a pastor, cringed at the news of prayer vigils popping up all over the place. It’s not that I’m against prayer nor has all of this violence in the world turned me into an atheist.
Prayer can and will change all circumstances. Prayer is not something we turn to only AFTER a tragedy strikes.
Where are the prayers that need to be said for a broken world before the brokenness decides to rear its ugly head in some catastrophic way?
Where are the weekly gatherings in which God’s children listen to the whispers of holy instructions that speak of loving one another and forgiving completely?
Where is our commitment to pray to God for help, wisdom and the strength to be the blessed peacemakers in this world?
Where are the prayer circles that gather before tragedy strikes, thus, making prayer vigils obsolete?
Every Sunday night a dedicated few would gather for prayer in the chapel of the little white church I served. There we would sit. In the heat of summer, the door would be open allowing a breeze to blow through along with the black flies. In the cold of winter, we would keep our coats on for we wanted to be good stewards of the building and keep the church’s heating costs down.
Sometimes we just sat awkwardly in silence. Sometimes we named a concern. Sometimes we prayed for others. Sometimes we even prayed for ourselves. But all the time, no matter what was said or not said, we left renewed with hope. We left in awe with gift of feeling the presence of God.
Did these prayer circles change our church? Yes, they did.
Did they change the community? I think so.
Did they change the world? Some people would say no, they didn’t. But they changed each one who attended. And that change, no matter how insignificant it might seem, is the change that will ultimately change the world. One person, one heart, one prayer at a time, that’s how a seemingly invisible God becomes visible to others.
And that’s where we have to start. Because nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.—or 9:30 a.m. or 9:25 p.m. or 8 p.m. There’s a world growing darker with hate. Tragedies will occur anytime, anywhere. We, though, don’t have to let helplessness turn into complacency. We have a choice.
We can continue to gather in prayer vigils after the darkness has covered us, or we can turn to God before our times of trouble. We can pray, encircled together, for love to win and for peace to shine brighter than any darkness.
It’s time for more prayer circles and fewer prayer vigils.
Blessed be those who mourn this day, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4