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.

            Death.

            Glued to the TV.

            Heartsick.

            Mad.

            Tears.

            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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