The Orlando Shootings—A Challenge and a Prayer

To our GPC community:

Together, we are horrified and profoundly saddened by the evil that came to Orlando early Sunday morning. As we struggle to respond, please know that GPC is a place where all are welcomed, loved, and heard. Our arms and ears are open to you and those you love at any time for counseling, prayer, or simply a place to sit in stillness of God's presence.

This tragedy is complex, and touches on important issues like homophobia, religious extremism, Islamophobia, gun violence, race, and more. While we know that some would employ that complexity to drive us apart, we know that in Christ we can do better. Instead of reacting with hatred, we go out of our way to love one another, as Christ commanded.  Fear causes us to cling to the power of things we can see and control, rather than to the powerful vision of the Kingdom of God. And so let us challenge ourselves to reach for the unfailing love and mercy of Christ. When you're ready, turn to your neighbors, and start a conversation. Not an argument to win, but an opportunity to listen, and even be changed. Know that "perfect love casts out fear," (1Jn 4:18) and that the most profound action we can take in response to an attack on our fellow citizens is to love, listen, and in spite of the odds, hope.

Hear the words of the Apostle Paul to the saints in Rome:

Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”  … May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. -Romans 15

God in your mercy, hear our prayers:

For the families and friends who grieve unthinkable loss,

For the LGBTQ individuals and communities who live in fear of discrimination and hatred,

For Muslim communities fearing retaliation,

For those lost in an ideology of hate, who seek out justification of their violence through religious extremism,

For the city of Orlando and its first responders,

For our country and its leaders, including Governor Scott and President Obama,

For the church, the body of Christ in the world, that we may be known through our love,

For dark valleys of danger, suffering, and death, where others are in need, and to which you call us,

For when we have no words or tears left, and when our trust is shaken,

In your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.

May God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, guide you this week by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Camille Cook Murray Rev. Rachel Landers Vaagenes Rev. Chris Chatelaine-Samsen