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Prayer Vigil on Sunday, 3/17

On behalf of Austin Dukes:

Dearest Faith family,
Austin here addressing you in a troubling time.
As I read the news of the most recent tragedy, I felt led by the Spirit to join with you on Sunday evening at 5:30pm in service of prayer and music.  (Erika and I will be leading together).
In our sinful world, tragedies befall us each and everyday. In the last month alone, there have been atrocities committed against Muslims and Christians in both New Zealand and in Nigeria.
While these sort of things have sadly become common in today’s world, it is important to understand the words of Christ regarding how we should respond to those who persecute us.
What has transpired in both of these events is truly heartbreaking. In Nigeria, 32 Christians were viciously murdered by a radical Islam group. Families perished as they tried to escape their homes, the bullets of hate cutting them down.
Yesterday, a man with an agenda walked into a place of Muslim worship and livestreamed his rampage of hate to the entire world on Facebook and Youtube. He made sure every possible person watched as he shot and desecrated the bodies of Muslims in their place of worship.
The history of conflict between Christianity and Islam is not a hidden one. It has been a subject of the media and societal conflict for decades. This last atrocity was made so public by the shooter that it is unavoidable to see. While not confirmed, there are many reports and evidence towards the shooter in the New Zealand shooting having an affiliation with Christian belief.
 This Sunday, we are hosting a prayer service focused on the overall issue of violence in our world. While a central theme will be the event that transpired in New Zealand, the hope is that this will be a beginning in consistent prayer for peace. Our world is one where people are sometimes driven towards violence when confronted with conflict. People have radicalized their hate towards individuals of different mindsets. Christ had a radically different message. In response to those who put Him on the cross, He begged for their forgiveness. Standing in front of those who claimed to follow Him, He said no word. We are often driven towards anger and fear in the face of these situations.
This service will be a challenge for many. It will challenge us to not only pray for the victims of both of these events; it will challenge us to pray for peace overall. We are focusing specifically on the message of Christ found in Luke 6:27-37. “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.” Romans 12:14 also states, “Bless those who persecute you.”
As you are able, I am inviting you and our community to join with me in prayer to focus on healing and compassion. I would challenge us to take this opportunity to show the radical side of Jesus and invite our community to see that side of Him as well.
Austin Dukes
Director of Middle and High School Youth
Faith Lutheran Church

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