A Solemn Call to Prayer and Peacemaking from Gary Walter

1 prayer on sankofa

Participants in 2015 Sankofa trip pray for racial reconciliation. Photo by Sarah Lindquist Swanson

We grieve and lament the disheartening events of this past week. A fallen and hurting world has fallen further and hurts more deeply.

All life is sacred as each one of us is made in the image and likeness of God. We all share in the God-given gift of life itself. We are distressed and grieve the deaths of Philando Castile of the Twin Cities and Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge. We are distressed and grieve the deaths of Dallas police officers

Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, and Michael Smith. Too many citizens are dying in questionably escalated circumstances; too many officers are dying in the line of duty. It is a toxic and polarizing cocktail.

And so first, I implore us to prayer. In your own life, in your church services, and in joining together with other churches in your area, intercede specifically for each family of those who lost loved ones. Pray for the healing of the wounded. Pray for those who weep—whether they weep for the dangers of being a young black man in these disorienting times, or weep for the dangers of being a police officer in these frayed times. Cry out to God in lament for deep cultural fissures and resentments. Pray for our churches in the Twin Cities, Louisiana, and Dallas as they seek to be salt and light. And remember the hope of Christ.

But don’t stop at prayer. Resolve to contribute to peacemaking. Remember Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Children of God. Friends, peacemaking is supposed to be a family trait of the family of God.

And how does one take halting steps in that endeavor? We cannot even begin without three things: pursuing engagement (which overcomes isolation), seeking understanding (which overcomes untested assumptions), and according respect (which overcomes dismissiveness). There is more to peacemaking, but there is not less, regardless of where on a polarized spectrum you begin and the convictions you may hold. So expand your relational circles. Be engaged in the social realities of others. Ask for the eyes to see how as a society we fail each other. Such begins peacemaking.

Beloved Covenant community, these are solemn days. May God use the distress of these times to help us find a better trajectory toward a more just and cohesive future aligned with the shalom of God for the world.


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  • Thank you Mr. Walter. Your words are conformation. Thank you for the reminder of what Jesus said and the instructions he gave, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God.” It is time for the body of Christ to answer to this call.

  • Thanks, Gary, for this well-written piece. After reading Psalm 123, and Matthew 5:1-12 together at our staff meeting today, we spent a lot of time in prayers of lament and petition. We then talked together about your 3 vital components to peacemaking mentioned here. Thank you again from Thornapple Covenant Church!

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