How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Orlando

OrlandoI’m in my office this morning as I write this, looking out the window and watching the kids who are a part of our VBS program playing games on the church’s front lawn.  After watching the news for the last 24 hours, and seeing the horrific scenes from Orlando, watching these kids play together is pretty surreal.

I’m having a hard time getting my mind wrapped around what happened in Orlando.  Fifty children of God were brutally and senselessly murdered.

And these 50 people who died, they were all somebody’s kid…somebody’s friend…somebody’s partner…someone’s sister or brother…and they were all children of God, loved beyond measure.

Already in the media,  people are blaming others for what happened.  And already, pundits have attempted to turn this into an issue of terrorism, or of hate, or of guns.

Yes, it might be any of these things.  It might be all of them.

But that is not a conversation for today.

Today, we grieve.

And my grief today is magnified by the fact that mass shootings like this have happened so many times, in so many different cities.  Something needs to change.  Something.  I’m not sure what, but something.  This cannot continue.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
  How long must I bear pain[a] in my soul,
    and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

  Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
  and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

  But I trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
  I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.

                                – Psalm 13

I don’t know what the specific solution looks like.  But as I think about Orlando…Charleston…Sandy Hook…Virginia Tech…Kileen, Texas…the University of Texas…Fort Hood…Columbine…and many others, I realize that the solution to the problem of these mass killings may be the people of God standing up and saying, “No…this isn’t ok.  This isn’t how God intends our lives to be.  God does not intend for God’s people to live in fear.  This is the work of evil and we will not tolerate it any more.”

As people of faith, God calls us to be the church in the world.  God calls us to be a public witness to the light that overcomes darkness.  God calls us to carry that light into the dark places and to bear the hope that comes through Christ.

Again, the specifics of how we do that?  In days ahead, that’s a longer conversation that I’d love to have here at Trinity.  But today, we just need to stand to express our solidarity with the families of victims who are grieving.  We need to remind them that they are not alone.

I don’t want the kids who are playing in the church yard right now to grow up in a world that is dictated by fear.  I want their world to be one of joy as they come to know the grace of God.

I am confident that we can be bold about God’s love.  And I am confident in God’s grace to see us through this together.  I think the conversations about the “how” of making change needs to happen.  But let’s take some time now to grieve, and to pray.  Pray for the victims, pray for the families, pray for light in the dark.   And pray for reminders that through it all, God is with us.

Pastor Todd

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