Thoughts and Prayers

Thoughts And Prayers
Faith Perspectives – March 14, 2018

By Rev. Nate Wollenberg
Trinity Lutheran Church–Hoyleton

Today marks exactly one month since the terrible tragedy that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead and another 17 injured, including several adults, and many children. In the month since that event, there has been no shortage of conversation regarding what should or should not be done in this country in order to prevent these kinds of things from occurring ever again.

You don’t have to look very far in order to find people arguing about things like whether we need gun laws to be strengthened, more support for mental health programs and research, more regulations on violent video games and movies, and the list goes on and on. Like most topics in today’s high-charged political climate, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on much of anything – except for this: more and more people in the world have come to the conclusion that “thoughts and prayers” are at best meaningless and foolish, and at worst being used as an excuse for political inaction.

Recently in Hoyleton, I had the opportunity to preach on 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (if you’d like to hear the full audio, it’s on our website – trinityhoyleton.org – just look for the sermon from March 4).

In that passage, St. Paul writes about what the world considers to be wise or foolish, and how that is often the exact opposite of what God considers to be wise or foolish.

Truth be told, it’s not just “thoughts and prayers” that don’t make sense to the rest of the world. The basic message of Christianity itself – the good news that the Son of God sacrificed Himself upon the cross and rose again from the dead in order to save the world from sin – “the word of the cross,” as Paul puts it, “is folly.” It’s foolishness; it is not seen by many as a valid solution to any of the world’s problems.

The world says, “do something!” As if human efforts and actions are what’s going to solve the problem of evil. But the message of this Lenten season is: “Jesus Christ has already done it all, for you!”

The only one who has the power to solve the problem of evil is the One who has already crushed the head of the serpent by sacrificing His life for ours. Jesus took away the most devastating consequence of sin, by enduring our punishment, so that all who call upon His name will one day live in His kingdom, where sadness and pain and suffering will finally come to an end!

This is where we can place our hope – in Christ! Not in human efforts and actions, which always falter and fail. And that is why we will continue to pray, even if the rest of the world gives up on prayer. Join me in continuing to call upon His name: “Lord, have mercy! Come, Lord Jesus! Amen!”