Dear Members and Friends:
It has been six days since the horrific attack in Orlando and while I know more about what happened, I still feel a range of emotions and the questions keep coming. I imagine many of you are as upset by this as I am.
I firmly believe that part of the calling of the Church is for us to lament on behalf of and with people in pain; to seek a more just and peaceful world; and to enage in relationships and model behavior, verbal and physical, that embody the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does that look like? Compassion. Mercy. Love. Peace. Gentleness. Kindness. Self-control. A few of those come from Galatians 5, that famous passage about the fruit of the Spirit that we are called to cultivate and share. In our day and age of heightened rhetoric, we have a chance to talk about and respond to tragedies like the mass shooting in Orlando in a way that contributes toward the ending of such events. This depends on whether we are committed to embodying our Gospel values. I know that at the Bible studies and small groups I attended at GPMC this week, members and friends modeled exactly what I am writing about. I have heard first-hand your sensitivity and compassion toward two different communities that have known their share of discrimination, harassment and violence in America, namely our gay neighbors and Latinos. I have been touched by your own lament that guns continue to ravage our land, even as so many of us seek to follow a Christ who eschewed weapons and violence. You have spoken of the strength it takes to live like Christ in a world of terrorism and gun violence, a world that tempts us to respond in kind. And I have been thankful for all those who recognize that how we speak about other faith traditions is a reflection of our own faith and trust in Jesus Christ and our own American values. I have heard the best from you and I hope that we, as a community, can model the same going forward. Our country and world need us to be like Jesus.
Our Presbyterian Church (USA) website has a prayer for the victims of Orlando and our country. One could also turn to some of the psalms of lament (Psalms 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85 and 90) to offer prayers on behalf of those who have been hurt and who grieve.
However you choose to remember the tragedy in Orlando and the lives lost and forever wounded, please do so in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, whose heart breaks for a world that God so loved that Jesus died and rose for all.
Grace and peace,