I composed this prayer for use in our diocese this Sunday, using some Sikh imagery but trying to remain respectful of Sikh feelings around not having ritualized mourning.
Prayer for the Sikh Community Uses imagery from the Kirtan Sohila, which is the Sikh prayer for the evening also used at funerals
Eternal God, every day you look after and behold all that you have created. Our world is engrossed in sin and evil. In the midst of the tragedy suffered by the Sikh community, we cry out to you for solace. Comfort the bereaved, heal the wounded, and move us to compassionate action to transform our communities so they may reflect your eternal peace. Send your spirit throughout the world, that all peoples may be gathered as your children, sharing in your divine light which pervades us all.
(Christian Ending) All this we pray in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace. Amen.
As most of you probably know, a horrific event took place at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek last night. A lone gunman, now identified as someone with ties to the white supremacy movement, entered the temple and began a shooting spree that killed six and critically wounded three before he was himself killed by a police officer. While many questions have been asked about who the Sikhs are and about some very ironic possible confusion with Muslims, the horror of the situation cannot be mitigated by any rationalization. One of the problems of the talk about confusion of Sikhs with Muslims is that while it helps us make sense of the tragedy, it also says something to the Muslim community - namely that if it had happened to them it might be all right. It is not all right. Aggressive violence is never all right. Hate is never acceptable. Not here, not in Wisconsin, not anywhere where the name of Jesus is known and honored as the name at which all knees should bow.
When Jesus confronted violence, he put his listeners inside the situation. When he stood up to those about to stone the woman caught in adultery, he said, “Let those without sin cast the first stone.” Once the perpetrators were inside the situation, the stones dropped from their hands. Our reaction to this action cannot be one of an outsider looking in. We are challenged by Jesus to think of what this would be like if it had happened at St. Matthias, and to react accordingly. To paraphrase Donne, no person is an island in a world beloved by God. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for us.
We are still in the early phases of shock and reaction. Grief, anger and pain intermingle as we try to wrap our minds around the horror and heroism of yesterday. Statements from the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Interfaith Council of Greater Milwaukee are forthcoming. Prayer is the best way to help at this time, as these organizations with pre-existing ties reach out to the Sikh community to find appropriate and sensitive ways to show solidarity and help them mourn.
As followers of our crucified Lord Jesus, we stand with any who are victims of violence. Today, we stand with the Sikh Community, and our prayers are for them. But in a greater sense, our prayers are not for "them,“ but for ”us," as we are all God’s beloved creations, and we are all diminished when hate rears its diabolical head to create fear, chaos, and destruction.
I will let you know as I have any information of ways to help beyond prayer, which is our best gift to them right now.