Sunday, June 12, 2016

Prayer for the Tragedy in Orlando

Loving God, darkness has fallen upon the United States, and thick darkness has descended upon the LGBT community. Tragedy clouded out the light as shots were fired inside Club Pulse in Orlando, Florida. 50 people were killed. Many others were injured. And an uncountable number of people bear psychological scars. In this time of darkness may your resilient light shine forth.

May your light shine on the people who were in or near Club Pulse during the shooting. After 15 years of the club being a hub for solidarity, support, and fun, this shooting has filled the LGBT community with a cloudy midnight of immense grief and righteous anger. They need your light, Loving God. Please pour it forth.

May your light shine on the family and friends of all of those who were wounded or murdered in this act of terrorism. This tragedy has sent ripples of grief and anger through all of these people, as they ask the questions anyone would ask. Why? Why her? Why him? Why now? Why like this? Why? This is a moment where there is a “dark night of the soul” for many people. So, we pray that you hold them in your light. Please bless all those around them, not with platitudes, but with comforting words and healing acts. And in the weeks and months ahead, bless them with a passion for seeking justice and building a better world.

May your light shine on all of us who are saddened and sickened by the news of this act of violence. We suffer from afar as we hear about this on our TVs, and read about it on our computers and in our newspapers. In our own work of processing this event, Holy God, bless us with enough hope to work for a better world, enough grace to respect diversity, and enough frustration to reject acts of violence and homophobia in our world.

May your light shine on the murderer, Omar Mateen, whose darkness overcame his light. Perhaps he had a long history of perverse decision making. Perhaps his family history was painful. Perhaps his social life was conflictual. Perhaps his mental health was compromised. Perhaps his community of support was of little support. Perhaps he was impacted by a twisted form of radical religion. Whatever darkness overtook this man, may there be a way for light to peek through so nobody has to experience this level of darkness again.

May your light shine on the friends and family of the murderer – who may be asking questions for which there are no easy answers. May their sadness, anger, guilt, and shame be accepted by those around them, as they process this situation. And someday, may they be able to see and know that light does shine in the darkness - and the darkness will not overcome it.

And may your light shine on the politicians, clergypersons, political pundits, and shock jocks who fill the culture with prejudice, division, and incivility. There’s no such thing as a lone gunman – and sometimes polemic, prejudiced words are enough to tip the balance of an already imbalanced person. Yet the people who fill our society with this kind of darkness need light, too. So, Loving God, through your light, may they see the damage that their words do to the civil discourse in our world. And may their hearts be softened, their words be tempered, and their styles of engagement be changed, so that their leadership positions can be used in the service of fostering a more civil, compassionate, and peaceful world.

Even in the midst of this tragedy, may we hold onto the hope that your light will continue to shine forth in the darkness until we are able to boldly proclaim, with the author of Isaiah, “Arise, shine; for our light has come, and the glory of God has risen within us.” And may that light show us the way to work for a better world for all people. Amen.

This prayer is based on Isaiah 60:1-2.

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