An invitation to prayer and reflection from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball

By Sandra Steiner Ball

This morning as I prepared to go and worship with Florence Memorial UMC whose building was consumed by a fire last week, I got a text about another tragedy – the second mass shooting in the U.S. in twenty-four hours.  My spirit, my soul aches for the people of El Paso, Tx, and Dayton, Ohio.  When will the violence stop?  When will we intentionally work on turning our culture to lifting people toward life, appreciating and respecting life, celebrating the sacred value of every person as created in God’s image instead of multiplying hate and violence?

God is calling us – the people of faith!  God is calling us not just to prayers and presence – but to witness!  Christ came so that all people might have life abundantly.  Witness involves action, it involves intentionality of sharing the Good News!  It calls us to be peacemakers, relationship builders, caregivers, life-givers, and to work for justice for the people and the communities in this nation who have been harmed.  This is what Christ did for all of us and we are called to continue the mission and ministry of Christ.

Please ponder these questions I have asked before:   

  • How will you be a peacemaker in the midst of the storms of violence and destruction?
  • How can you be a peacemaker and at the same time work for justice? 
  • What can you do to help develop a sense of well-being and harmony in your life, in the lives of neighbors, strangers, friends, and communities?
  • What social problems move you to want to make a difference by building bridges, making connections, valuing people?

Join me as we pray:

Oh God, we pray today for the communities of El Paso and Dayton.  We pray for those affected by the violence visited upon God’s people in these communities today – but we also pray for all those communities around the world who experience the results of violence and hate that goes unchallenged and unchanged. 

Help us to have courage and to take action to confront and to transform the cultures of violence and hate.  Help us to be peacemakers.  Help us to build relationships. Help us to provide help – mental help, spiritual help, physical help, material help to those who are on the edges, to those who are vulnerable, to those whose culture, environment, context, education might lead them to take life instead of give and nurture life. Help us, as the media perpetuates the stories of violence, to multiply stories of hope, and love, and a different way of life and living in community with one another.

May your Spirit of love envelop the families of those whose life has been taken or harmed.  May your strength abide with these families, communities, and first responders.  May your healing power be at work. 

We thank you, Lord, for a love that will not let us go!  We thank you for your abiding presence and we thank you now for the first responders who saved and save life, and for all who will work with you and each other to transform this world into a larger community of respect love and peace. 


Sandra Steiner Ball
Resident Bishop
The West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church