A Voice Is Heard in Orlando

A Community Lament for Orlando

The children of Orlando sit on the ground in silence;
    Their hands bury their faces; grief has become their sackcloth.

For these things we weep.
    Our eyes flow with tears.

Our children are desolate.
    For the enemy has prevailed.

Our souls are bereft of peace:
    We have forgotten what happiness is.

The thought of such horror and death is wormwood and gall!
    We think of it continually and our souls are bowed down within us.

But this we call to mind,
    And therefore we have hope.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    His mercies never come to an end.

They are new every morning.
    Great is your faithfulness, O Lord.

The Lord is my portion, says my soul.
    Therefore I will hope in him.

A Prayer of Confession

Lord God, who gives and sustains all life, comfort all your children, but especially those of Orlando whose minds now relive the horror and wanton destruction of life that came when your shalom was vandalized,
    Be the passionate friend whose heart breaks with all who are brokenhearted.

We turn to you for your life-giving breath; we turn to you for hope,
    We turn to you for forgiveness as we confess our sins.

Where we have failed you and others in your mission,
    Lord, forgive us.

Where we have failed to love you above all and others as ourselves,
    Lord, forgive us.

Where we have taken secret pleasure in others’ misery, believing that their suffering is deserved,
    Lord, forgive us.

Where we have not stood by those unlike us in color, language, origin, gender, gender orientation or belief,
    Lord, forgive us.

Where we have not raised our voices against oppression and injustice because ‘they’ are different,
    Lord, forgive us.

A Prayer for Restoration

Renew our lives and our faith so that we may be the Church of Jesus Christ wherever we are placed.
    Move us to dedicate our lives to your service.

As you raised your own Son from death and the grave, raise us up to new life in you.
    Move us to dedicate our lives to your service.

Empower us by the Holy Spirit to dream dreams and see visions of a cosmos in which all things are made new.
    Move us to dedicate our lives to your service.

Make us a living Church in Christ’s name, holy unto you and precious in your sight.
    Move us to dedicate our lives to your service.

Make us to be Christ in the world, finding new ways to declare your love to those around us.
    Move us to dedicate our lives to your service.

Raise up Orlando and all our communities to be better, stronger, united and devoted to our common good to the praise of your holy Name!
    All honor, glory and praise to you, God our Father, and to Jesus Christ your  Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forevermore, world without end. 

Amen!

Orlando, Orlando -- I stand read to gather your children together.

Based on the work of ELCA pastor, Rev. Pastor Thomas L. Weitzel, ret.

 

Remembering the Family Rhoden

If Death Comes, You Deserved It

Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church, Tempe, Arizona is no stranger to us. Registering in the extremist/insanity category, Anderson’s screeds and conspiracy theories have amused and abused many. Today, we surmise that death comes to those who deserve it. Given how they lived, what could those who died in the Paris attacks expect?

But Piketon, OH hosted no Eagles of Death Metal concerts. Yet eight Rhoden family members died in their sleep. Perhaps this family will be linked to the marijuana plants found in the vicinity. One supposes that would certainly offer Mr. Anderson a tidy explanation of their demise.

Another Response

But then, suppose that God isn’t like that at all. Suppose that when his children in France or Belgium or Ferguson or Boston or Charleston or Piketon are snuffed out, God’s own heart grieves. Recognizing that this is indeed the case, United Methodists prepared these resources for lament. Nor are Methodists the only people to recommend community laments.

The Boston Catholic website has uploaded this document. There, we find such statements as:

‘The scriptures provide us with ways to express our hope that God’s intervention will change our feelings of emptiness, fear and sadness while we become even more aware of the events and how they occurred. We need to place our losses and the losses of the French people into the context and framework of faith.’

And…

‘There is a need to come together for prayer.’

And…

‘Safety and stability is given when communities respond in prayerful ways.’

There is a tremendous need community instruction from the perspective of Christian faith in God. But providing it will require courage. Such issues as these and other documents name will not go quietly into the sunset. But on the other hand, the conditions that give rise to tragedy make this response by the church all the more imperative.

The Rhoden family tragedy is yet another call for church to remember who she is, to whom she belongs, and for what end she exists in the world. Mr. Anderson is a good example of what we are not to be. Can we now find grace to minister positively when tragedy strikes?