Editor's note: Occasionally on Fridays, "Thinking Out Loud" readers receive special blog posts. Due to the need for Michael Jinkins to be with his family this week following the recent death of his father, Dr. Jinkins asked Louisville Seminary Trustee Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston to share with the Louisville Seminary community his reaction to the June 11, 2016, shooting at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub where 49 people were killed and 53 more were wounded. Rev. Johnston is the Senior Pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. Please keep the victims of this horrible event as well as their families in your prayers.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Over the last few days—in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando—I have had a difficult time reading the news, a difficult time making it through each wrenching sentence. I have felt alternatively numb and angry, bewildered and so very, very sad.
I have been making a little list of things that I know. It helps me to do this. When the ground about me is shaking, it helps me to write down my surest convictions—the places where I personally feel solid and certain. Here is my short list:
● I know that there is no easy solace that can be offered to the friends and family members of those murdered. I know this will hurt for a long, long time.
● I know we can do better as a country when it comes to enacting and enforcing sane gun legislation.
● I know that God’s heart breaks over these deranged acts of violence.
● I know God loves the LGBT community just as much as God loves the straight community.
● I know that the forces of evil despise love. They want to hurt love. This is the sad truth of Good Friday.
● I also know that love—the bloodied, stubborn, refuse-to-stay-dead love Christ offers to the world—will eventually triumph. This is the deep promise of Easter morning.
● I know that prayer matters.
In moments like this, some say the promise of prayer is weak and ineffective. They argue that prayer is a docile response to atrocity. I disagree. At times like this prayer is not the only action worth taking but, make no mistake, prayer is an action worth taking.
Prayer focuses us. Prayer guides us. Prayer grounds us.
Will you pray with me?
O God, the only true source of wholeness and peace, in a world bearing fresh wounds,
we ask for your help and guidance.
As we move through this hard time, please endow us with:
the compassion to embrace our LGBT neighbors,
the courage to bear one another's burdens,
and hearts unafraid to weep with those who weep.
As we consider our response to this tragedy, save us from the desire for vengeance,
and from the temptation to rejoice in wrongdoing.
Help us take positive steps, real steps, bold steps toward preventing future massacres.
Fill us this day with the love of Christ, that we might seek good for all people.
Let us not be overcome by evil. Help us overcome evil with good.
Finally, O Lord, pour a balm on us, help us to heal,
for you alone are our refuge and strength, our help in time of trouble.
Help us to show in our lives what we proclaim with our lips:
Good is stronger than evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
hope is stronger than despair.
Bless you and all those you love this day.