On Monday, April 23, ten people were killed and 15 injured on a busy Toronto street in the Yonge Street and Finch Street area as the driver of a van drove over pedestrians in a violent and terrifying attack. People across the country are praying for all those affected by this senseless crime.
Update: A vigil will take place on the evening of Tuesday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m. beginning at Olive Square Park (5575 Yonge St, just south of Finch). Please note that Yonge St. will still be closed, as well as North York Civic Centre subway station. People wishing to attend can park at Willowdale Presbyterian Church. (If you choose to park at Willowdale, be aware that the parking lot is rented out. To avoid a possible parking ticket, place a note in your windshield that reads “Guest of Matthew Sams”.)
The Rev. Matthew Sams, minister at Willowdale Presbyterian Church, which is near the area of Yonge and Finch, has issued the following prayer in response to this horrific tragedy.
A Lament for Yonge Street
Knees bent in service to comfort the wounded
Knees bent in prayer to summon peace
Sitting on my couch,
the news is on,
a curtain torn in the temple of my heart
admitting the world’s pain.
Death has its own schedule
A withered hand reaching in to steal away life
you are the giver of life
Therefore, we lift up to you those who have died on this day when violence erupted.
There is no making sense of their death, there is no justice available in this moment.
Yet may those who love them be comforted.
There will be no raising today as for the sons of the widows of Zarephath and of Nain. Yet we are a people who know about Death. All our hope rests in Christ, the first fruits of the Resurrection.
We lift up to you those whose lives have been disrupted, shattered, with broken bodies and bruised minds. Life will not be the same yet may they, like Jacob, find new life even as they limp forevermore.
We lift up to you those who were there first. The passersby, the lunch mates untouched, the strangers standing nearby who first witnessed the horror. We lift up to you EMS personnel, the vanguard of those rebuilding lives. We lift up to you fire crews and others who secured the area. Finally, we lift up to you the police, 32 Division who responded first among many; we honour the officer who disarmed the attacker with the power of words and conviction. May they all be healed of their own wounds from today. As the years go by and images flood back, may all who need help seek it, may all who seek it receive it, and may all who receive it be made whole.
Finally, we pray for the man. The man beyond comprehension yet one we know too well. The man who drove the truck and took those lives. May your Holy Spirit convict him so that he may repent, and in so turning to you find new life.
Lord, may everything we do be pleasing to you.
—The Rev. Matthew Sams, Willowdale Presbyterian Church, Toronto