Spiritual Practice


Alina Kanaski

I was devastated by the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in October 2018. I cried on and off all day. I was attending school in Pittsburgh and drove by the synagogue all the time. I knew someone who was killed.

I was also a pastor, and Sunday was coming. What should I do? How should I lead worship the next day? How could I get through it?

You know how troubled I am;
you have kept a record of my tears.
Aren’t they listed in your book?
Psalm 56:8 (GNT)

By Saturday night I saw articles about the shooter and the scripture he used to justify his violence. My heart broke as I heard my beloved Bible used to justify something so horrific.

In the end, I cried my way through a sermon against violence, anti-Semitism, and using scripture to justify our sin. More important, I was with my community. We were able to worship together, to mourn together, and to rest in God together.

God is our foundation. I don’t know how to respond to violence without first turning to God, without remembering that God is with us, sharing our sorrow and mourning with us.


REFLECT: To whom do you turn when violence strikes? Who stands with you and reminds you that God shares your pain?

—from devozine (January/February 2020). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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