Dear Brokenhearted God,
We did not want to have to come to you again with such heavy hearts after what we endured last June in Charleston. Yet, we bow before you today grief stricken and stunned. We cry, as we did then, how can this happen? What can we do? Forgive us for not doing enough in this year to keep another brother from killing so many sisters and brothers. Give us your strength to endure this tragedy. Give us your wisdom to see a way forward for peace. Raise up among us leaders who can make a difference. Teach us how to be agents of reconciliation who embrace all your people. Break open the barriers of our hearts so that we can see your Son Jesus in every face we meet. We are your brokenhearted people, pleading in the name of the One whose death broke your own heart for us all. Amen.
Following is a letter from Robert G. Schaefer, Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA, from the Heart of Florida Conference, which he has shared with us.
A Day of Mourning and Lament
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I invite every congregation to name this Sunday, June 19, the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost 2016, as a Day of Mourning and Lament in our worship together as congregations of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. Let us “weep with those who weep”.
Let us reflect upon how grief implicates us all in the common bonds of humanity. The hundreds of patrons of the Pulse nightclub have relationships that reach into our churches, schools and lives. The hateful rhetoric of our day has touched us with its great harm; no one is spared.
Let us allow no place for the rhetoric of hate in our lives and relationships. As disciples of Jesus Christ, let us trust that “love casts out all fear,” “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
We remember the Charleston Nine, massacred at Mother Emanuel Church a year ago, when the safety of the sanctuary of God was breached. Now we mourn again because of gun violence and the hate that pulls the trigger.
We mourn the loss of 49 persons last Sunday at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and pray for the recovery of the 53 injured and many traumatized. We mourn for the perpetrator Omar, who overwhelmed by the chaos of violence, lost control of his own humanity and thus brought suffering to thousands of people.
We lament the words and deeds that disparage and threaten the LGBTQ community, our Muslim neighbors, and immigrants among us.
Let our lament become the prophetic passion of healing love so that all identities – whether of national origin, sexual orientation, or religion – feel welcome and safe in our midst.
We commend to God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Healer, all victims of violence.
Peace be yours,
Robert G. Schaefer, Bishop of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA
Let us pray. O Lord our God, Triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Our city has been devastated by a terrorist who chose to commit mass murder, who chose a gay night club as his target, and we, as people of faith, are called to respond to such evil in Christlike words and deed. We pray for the dead, the wounded, and their families that they might know comfort. We pray for the LGBT community and the Islamic community, who now bear wounds and fears because of this attack, that you might protect them from further harm. We pray for our congregation and for all Christians, that we might be instruments of peace, that in loving and serving like Jesus, we might bring hope and healing to our city and all people, even our enemies who desire us harm. We ask these things in the name of Christ, our Lord, the Prince of Peace and healer of all our ills. Amen.
(From the Heart of Florida Conference)
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Estimated 50,000 People Attend Vigil for Orlando Victims: NBC NEWS, by Tim Stelloh, 06/20/16