Paris: Help Us In Our Unbelief

Back in August, I prepared for our music staff a schedule of sermons, songs and scripture readings for every Sunday from September through November. Every week, I refer to that schedule and create the program for the upcoming Sunday. Of course, sometimes I change things, but most of the time the essence of the plan remains in tact.   

Last Tuesday, I sat down to prepare the program for Sunday. I referred to my schedule and found the scripture reading for the week. I looked it up and refreshed my memory. Back in August, I planned to talk on November 15th about standing up against an unjust status quo. I entitled the sermon “Taking Offense.” When I re-read the scripture last Tuesday, however, it struck me differently, so I made a change. I re-titled the message and kept everything else as it was in August. I finished the program Wednesday morning and e-mailed it to the office. Done! The program was printed on Friday morning.

            Friday night.

            Evil struck.

            Bombs and gunfire.


            Glued to the TV.




            No words.

Then a revelation invaded my space like a lightning bolt. I had changed the title of my message on Tuesday to “Disruption.” The opening song that I picked in August and did NOT change was entitled, “Wounded World That Cries for Healing.” 

I am not a spooky person. If God prompts me to pick a hymn and change a sermon title, it is rare (Never…?). If Tuesday night was one of those rare occasions, I still wrestle with an incurable cynicism.

Late Friday night, still no words. Then a prayer once prayed came to mind: “I believe! Lord, help me in my unbelief.”   

            In Paris, a wounded city cries for healing.

            Our world is disrupted.

            We need some light to shine in the darkness.

            For the sake of the people of Paris,  O God…

                        …let hope emerge from despair,

                                    …healing come to broken hearts, 

                                                …love rise above hate and violence.

            For the world’s sake, O God, if you do intervene in human affairs,

                        ….now is the time.

                                    …we believe

                                        …help us in our unbelief.

John E. Holt, Cotuit, Massachusetts

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