United Church of Christ Minister the Rev. Jim Antal, general minister of the Massachusetts Conference, spent the early hours of Tuesday morning at an airport reflecting on the bombing at the Boston Marathon. He wrote how the events one day earlier, which have marred one of the country's most recognized races, tragically link his hometown of Boston to the shootings in Newtown, Conn., just months earlier in December.
"[The people affected by these events] now know what it means to have 'normal' life stolen from them," Antal said. "When it comes to grief and tragedy, the church is and has always been a first responder. In regards to wanton violence and unrestrained greed and acquisitiveness, the church must learn to be a first responder."
United Church of Christ clergy, organizations and affiliated ecumenical groups have offered prayers of support for those affected by Monday's bombing in Boston. In addition to Antal, UCC General Minster and President the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, and the Massachusetts Council of Churches have all issued statements in the face of this tragedy.
"We are troubled by this truth of our times and times in the past, that violence is too often the tool of choice for individuals, movements and even governments as they seek advantage or to impose their will on others," said Black in his prayer. "Still our hope is grounded in you and your eternal faithfulness with us and all of creation. In our hope we continue to pray. Bestow on us your spirit of compassion so that we may be the vessels of compassion and care in the midst of this suffering, oh God."
"Open and Affirming congregations throughout the United Church of Christ will be holding the people of Boston and our UCC congregations in Massachusetts in thought and prayer as the Boston Marathon tragedy continues to unfold," said a portion of the statement from the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns. "We especially hold in prayer the staff and members of two Open and Affirming churches that were directly on the marathon route and near the scene of the attacks: Old South Church and the Church of the Covenant."
The Massachusetts Council of Churches offered the following thoughts: "Our hearts are heavy in Massachusetts. On a great day of civic pride and joy, our city of Boston was scarred by violence. We grieve for those who have died. Bodies made to run and cheer were wounded. Our eyes are burned with images of terror in the very streets where we walk. We do not yet now why this has happened. Preserve us from quick judgments, O Lord. Give us wisdom in the days ahead. Reveal to us peace and truth."
Read the Rev. Jim Antal's full prayer here.
Read the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black's full prayer here.
Read the statement from the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns here.
Read the statement from the Massachusetts Council of Churches here.