What can I say?
What can anyone say?
What could we say together?
Like many people I am saddened and horrified not just by the violence but by the apparent hate that caused it.
I feel helpless. I feel culpable. I feel angry.
Do Not Ne Afraid – Believe
As I think about what happened in Orlando, this verse gives me strength:
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Don’t Blame – Listen
Social media is full of outraged voices. Homophobia, religious prejudice, political pontificating, misogynist dismissal, and hate mongering preclude open dialogue that could be productive. We shout rather than listen. We blame others rather than look within. I find this discouraging as much as I find it typical of what American discourse has become. We need just laws and better outcomes – but the way to achieve them cannot be to point the finger, pound the podium and yell.
There needs to be some real conversation about guns and our glorification of them in our culture. The perpetrator did everything legally to obtain the weapons, even after being on an FBI watch list. Can we prevent mass shootings and protect the Second Amendment? YES! We need to listen. We need to discuss. We need to implement real solutions. We need to demand change.
Don’t Be Quiet – Be Bold
Jim Rowe, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Kingston, New York writes:
“It seems only white. heterosexual, Christian men are safe in this country these days. That’s a privilege. If we white, heterosexual, Christian men do not use our privilege to make this country safe for people not like us (women, LGBTQI, people of color, non-Christians, etc.), then we are a major part of the problem. And for us to say there is nothing we can do is a lie.”
These words resonate deep within me. It is too easy to stay quiet. It is too easy to be part of the problem. It is too easy to believe the lie. I was wrong. There is much to do together.
I now ask myself:
“If I am not ready to risk what is safe for what is right, who will?”
I want to be the Samaritan helping the stranger on the roadside. I want to welcome, listen and learn from others. I want to celebrate that all people (LGBTQI, men, women, Muslims, Christians and other religions, immigrants, refugees, every ethnic background, those who differ politically, young, old and all others in between) are made beautiful in the likeness and image of God and are therefore of great value.
Don’t Divide – Make Peace
I want to be an instrument of God’s reign of peace in a world so preoccupied with division. I want to overcome evil with good. I want to get off a well-worn path that leads nowhere and forge a new one – with open arms, a loving heart, and a faith that believes we never walk alone.
Jill and Sy Jackson wrote a famous song titled, “Let there be peace on earth.” The second line warrants reflection, “and let it begin with me.”
If f we want to prevent this horror from striking another community; if we want to care for those who are grieving now; if we want peace – where all are welcome and all are valued; peace must first begin with us.
The prayer of St. Francis has become an integral part of my devotional life over the last several years. It speaks loudly to me each day, but particularly when tragedy strikes:
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen”
“Make me an instrument of your peace.”
You are God’s instrument.
You are not an instrument of judgment, indifference or incompetence.
You are an instrument of peace.