Speaking for all United Methodists, Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the Council of Bishops, declared: “United Methodists across the world are horrified by the despicable act of terrorism in Orlando, Florida, that took the lives of 49 individuals and wounded 53 others. We are in shock. We join those who grieve.
“We pray for the victims, their families, and the LGBTQ community targeted by this hateful attack. We stand against all forms of violence, committed anywhere in the world by anyone.”
“We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters who have condemned this heinous act. We pledge to work together to overcome evil with good, terrorism with peace, hatred with love, and inequity with justice…”
“As we battle terrorism, let us not become terrorists in the process. As we seek to be vigilant, let us not let fear curtail our hospitality…”
What shall we do in response to this tragedy?
Let Us Love
First and foremost, as Florida UM Bishop Ken Carter has urged and Matthew Vines states categorically in an article in Time we must LOVE our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters unconditionally. No qualifications! We must say in every way possible, act in every way possible, to communicate to them that they are God’s beloved children, loved by God with an unconditional love that will never let them go!
Let Us Pray
Next, we must pray. For we are battling “powers and principalities,” i.e., transpersonal forces of evil, which we underestimate at our own peril. Acting without first praying is folly. To presume that we can, by dint of our own efforts alone, quell terrorism, gun violence, and homophobia would be an act of supreme arrogance and hubris on our part. And so, we must first offer ourselves to the One who is able to do through us exceedingly far more than what seems possible in our human way of thinking. As the great theologian Karl Barth once said, “To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”
I encourage you to attend one of the following prayer services in area United Methodist churches on Wednesday, June 15:
- Life in the City, 205 E. Monroe St, at 6:30 p.m.
- Westlake UMC, 1460 Redbud Trail, at 7:00 p.m.
- Oak Hill UMC, 7815 Hwy 290 W, 6:30-7:45 p.m. (Come and Go Prayer & Communion)
- Kyle UMC, 408 Lockhart St., Kyle TX at 7:00 p.m.
Let Us Work
Then we must also be willing to work for that for which we pray. To be content only to pray without also working for what we pray is to commit the cardinal sin of sloth. It betrays our insincerity and indolence. It’s sheer laziness before God. And so, I urge you to work for policies that will reduce gun violence in America and for policies both in churches and in society that will counteract homophobia and Islamophobia and affirm the sacred worth of all persons, whatever their sexual orientation or religion. See my post.
Once again, we cry, how long, O Lord?
We wonder, when will it be enough?
This time, it is your LGBTQ children slaughtered in a horrific attack.
They were our brothers and sisters, our parents and children.
The same lifeblood flows through all our veins,
and spills out without regard to difference,
staining the floors our places of fellowship, community, and learning,
staining our lives with sorrow, fear, and regret.
Let your heart that beats as one among us,
draw us together from all that falsely divides us,
so that we may rise up as one to breathe peace where there is no peace,
and to heal our communities and our world.
We pray for those whose lives were ended in a hail of hatred and gunfire,
for those who mourn them,
and for those who have been spared,
but whose lives will now be forever marked by this tragedy.
Grant them solace, sustenance, and strength in the hard days to come.
We give thanks for the first responders,
who ran toward gunfire, rather than away from it,
and for doctors and nurses and mental health providers,
who have worked so hard to repair what has been broken.
We pray for our President, our Secretary of Homeland Security,
and all who direct our nation’s efforts to defeat terrorism.
Grant them wisdom to act effectively, but not to over-react.
Forgive and transform our society which tolerates violence,
our fearful xenophobia,
and our willingness to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear
to words and deeds of intolerance.
God of the rainbow and of the resurrection,
give us the hope and the faith to trust
that goodness is stronger than evil;
that love is stronger than hate;
that light is stronger than darkness;
that life is stronger than death;
and that when we act on this faith,
you will give us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
“*adapted from a prayer by the Rev. Laurie Ann Kraus, Associate Director, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and from an African prayer edited by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.