Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 18: Providing Sanctuary

I want to turn away from all of the pictures of children suffering. Pictures of war torn countries, pictures of children who are victims of domestic violence who could live down the street. There are also other forms of violence that are less easily capture by pictures. The violence of the toxic waste dumped by a company that makes a kid sick. The violence of poisons that seep into the water and endanger an unborn child’s life in the womb. The violence of climate change that causes a famine, destabilizes governments, and leads to a civil war and thousands of refugee children. I want to turn away, to pretend like it is someone else’s problem. But we are called not just to look and lament, but to offer places of safety and sanctuary. When it comes to these other, slower forms of violence—the ones brought on by our abuse of creation—the sanctuary is not just limited to one place but it must extend to all places. To keep our children safe we must keep our watersheds and lands healthy. We cannot turn away, but we must face these problems with hope—for hope will be what gives us courage for the long work of healing slow violence. We need hope to trust and imagine that things can and will be different. To make our places safe we should take consolation in Paul’s hopeful promise that “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rm 8.26)

Lord open our eyes to the damage done to your creation and to the suffering this causes, and give us the courage and hope to transform our lands and towns into sanctuaries of your love and peace.

Wilson Dickinson is a teacher, preacher, and writer who is struggling to live sustainably and faithfully in Central Kentucky with his wife and son. He is currently working on a couple of books (one on "The Wisdom of the Cross" and the other on "Psalms as Songs of Love and Loss"), seeking to cultivate Christian community around issues of sustainability, and will be teaching some at Lexington Theological Seminary this Fall.

A Little More…
First Steps in the Long Work of Healing Slow Violence by Wilson Dickinson

Our 2016 prayer vigil theme is Helping Our Children Heal from Violence. For more resources visit and 

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