Today, once again we face a renewed horror of what hate armed with guns can visit on a people celebrating life and love in our country. It would be easy to collapse into despair. But I feel angry that our country is awash with gun violence, where no one is safe, and we have not been able to stop this scourge. We the people must take to the streets standing against all violence and standing with our friends and family and neighbors who today feel most vulnerable–our friends who are LGBTQ, Latino/Hispanic, and Muslim. We must speak out loudly and without hesitation that we are all beloved and that hate will not control our lives or drown out our voices. We must cry out in lamentation against the violence that is a cancer in our culture and grieve with all those whose hearts are once again broken by violence visited on our beloved children.
But we must never give up or give in to hate. The young people dancing to salsa music gunned down in Orlando were living and loving with fullness. They were celebrating life and that must be our tribute to them. We must love more audaciously, we must open our hearts and our arms to everyone of God’s beloved children, we must stand with and hold close those who are assaulted most directly in this massacre of all that is sacred, and we must believe with all that we are that love will always win and that life is always stronger than death. We must stand resolutely with love and respect and dignity as we weep with those who mourn this day. We must promise with our words and with our lives that our response to the heinous deaths of these glorious young people will not be violence or retribution against another vulnerable community, but rather will be a fierce determination to love and welcome and embrace all, as they did while they were with us on earth. May God’s mercy hold us close this day.
Loving God, gather to your heart the victims of violence and hate. In the wake of unexplainable suffering, walk with us. Comfort those who lost loved ones unexpectedly and needlessly. Hold in your tender care those who suffered grievous injury. Renew their hearts with your grace. Wash them with your tears. Breathe your life into their spirits.
Guide us through our fears and anxious moments. Bless us with the knowledge of your presence always. Raise up among us those who will tirelessly work for unity and reconciliation. May we all become agents of your peace.
Father of all, we pray to you for the victims of the massacre in Orlando, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.