The events of early Sunday morning in Orlando have shaken our country to its core. In the press, through social media, and on the streets of towns and cities all over the country, people are in grief, angry, hurting, and wanting to do something good in the wake of this senseless act of violence.
President Obama, in his address to the country, called the shootings an act of terror and an act of hate. The incident was a perversion of religion at the hands of a radicalized individual, and the perpetrator targeted with biased hatred LGBTQ individuals.
Our prayers go out to the 49 individuals who were senselessly killed and the dozens who were injured on Sunday morning at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. We pray for those that love them and those whom they loved—friends, family, and partners. We grieve with those who grieve.
We pray for LGBTQ individuals and communities, who live with threats daily, and whose world has become a less secure place because of this horrific act. We stand with you in your grief, outrage, and vulnerability, as we hope for a more just and peace-filled world. You are children of God and beloved, held by the holy.
We pray for Latino/a communities in Orlando and beyond, who are trying to make sense of these losses. This past Saturday night was Latin night at Pulse. The vast majority of those who were killed were Latino/a men and women. Pray for families and communities that are coping with loved ones who will not return.
We pray for Muslims, in this season of Ramadan, who have also voiced their outrage at these events. May the killings in Orlando be a rallying point among the faithful from all religious traditions to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.
We also give thanks for those acts of heroism and courage in the face of terror and hate. For the several hundred who lined up to donate blood on behalf of many who cannot in Orlando. For the first responders who put their own lives on the line to preserve life where possible. For those community leaders and officials who organized communities to stand in solidarity with Orlando, to say to hate that, indeed, love will always carry the day.
May we find the courage to love more in the face of hatred, for God’s love overcomes hate. May we receive God’s gracious word to “fear not” in the face of terror, even as we figure out ways to live more justly, humanely, and securely with each other.
God of grace, mercy, and justice, grant wisdom among officials, leaders, and all peoples so that we may overcome evil in its various human and structural manifestations. Eradicate hate from our midst in its various forms, the phobias and –isms that seek to divide human life from human life, knowing that in life and in death, we ALL belong to God.
Jesus summarized the commandments into two: love of God and love of neighbor. Love fiercely, love deeply, love without condition. God’s love overcomes hate.
Peace and grace to all of you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Frank M. Yamada, President
Rainbow flag image courtesty of Creative Commons: Karl Schultz, 2012, Flickr.com