Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Very young Aniya Allen of Minneapolis now rests in eternity. This sweet six year-old was in the car with her mother when gun violence broke out around them. Her earthly light has been snuffed out much too soon, and a community grieves her death and the persistent evil of gun violence in our culture. Precious in the sight of the Lord, may perpetual light shine on dear Aniya Allen.
James Keller stated, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another.” I have this image of Aniya being a candle whose flames will draw deeper attention to the impact all this violence is having on OUR children. Trinity Ottoson-Smith (age 8) and Ladavionne Garrett Jr. (age 10) also victims of gun violence in Minneapolis; and abroad, 40 Palestinian children killed, 54 injured. Who are we, that this evil has gone unchecked? And OUR children pay the price. Edmund Burke said “The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is for good men/people to do nothing”
May we take advantage of Aniya’s flame and light our candles for change, for justice, and for peace. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). I don’t have the words; I can’t make sense of it. My heart, our hearts ache for her family. We must honor her, we must weep and wail in solidarity with her family.
With tender hearts, we offer this scripture and prayer:
“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’” (Mark 10:14)
Loving Mothering Father God of compassion, we bring every grieving parent, grandparent, sibling, family member and friend before your throne of Grace, so that they might receive comfort. They are overwhelmed with sorrow, emotional pain, and confusion right now. The heartache of Aniya’s parents having to plan the funeral of their 6 year-old child; the parents of Trinity and Ladavionne sitting holding vigil at their bedsides as they fight for their lives from bullet wounds; the parents of Palestinian children that will no longer see tomorrow; the parents of children we will never know lamenting the death of your beloved little ones on account of this world’s violence. Our hearts are breaking: we cry, Christ have mercy; make the violence stop; bring peace to your people. And we beseech you, hold all your children in your eternal embrace, the flame of their lives forever burning bright in your presence. Amen.
Pastor Babette Chatman
Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres