A Prayer for the World

Miller Chapel

This prayer was delivered at Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary on November 19, 2015. 

Were you there when people strapped bombs on and armed themselves for battle? Were you there when violence erupted in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Nigeria? Did you hear the gun shots and bombs in Paris as people screamed and kept silent, not to hear you but to protect their own lives? Did you perceive the defiance and acts of retaliation that united two countries that were once in opposition with one another; were you weeping as sadness gave birth to unified violence? Were you watching as homes were ripped apart and raided under the banner of greater safety? Did you see yet another unarmed black man shot this week in America, another unvalued life lost in the headlines? Are you listening as people celebrate this morning at the death of Abdelhamid Abaaoud? Are you there as students mere steps away from our campus protest against racism and demand a better community for Princeton University?

Where are you as our world is torn apart?

We beget violence with violence, preferring more weapons to prevent gun violence. A photograph of a young boy washed up on the shores of Turkey brought tears to our eyes only weeks ago; and now we turn our backs on refugees who flee the familiarity of their homes because it’s a better option than staying. We want to close our doors and build walls along our borders. We embrace fear in the name of our own safety.

Where are you as our world is torn apart?

We are ripping our theology books apart as we ask the question, “Why do bad things happen?” We look into the eyes of our fellow students wondering what this is all about, why do we care? A theological education, books and papers, that gives birth to what?

Where are you as our world is torn apart?

How can we remain silent when it seems as though you are doing the same?


Where are you as we tear your world apart?

This world is not ours, we were merely the stewards of Creation. Though the waves of violence sweep around the world, we will not allow it to wash over us. We acknowledge that this is your dance, not ours. Movement to your tempo and beat within the steps laid out before us. We dance because the terror and fear cannot overtake us; this is what a life of faith is all about.

Where are you as we tear your world apart?

Beside us, behind us, alongside us, in front of us. You, O God, are embracing us in this dance. We move our bodies in defiance of the depths of despair that could draw us in. We dance so that your song can be known in all corners of this world.



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