Dear Friends of Second Church,
Earlier this week, I was honored to represent our church at two local events to honor the victims of the shootings in Orlando.
I was also moved to learn that yesterday, a trained clergy crisis response team from the Connecticut UCC—first formed after the shootings in Newtown—was already on the ground down there, with another UCC team due to arrive today.
As you might imagine, pastoral care for the LGBT community in Florida is both profoundly important and immensely tricky in the wake of last Sunday’s violence. The need for comfort and a sense of God’s love could not be greater. Yet so many have been turned away from their families and home religious communities. In light of that experience, it can be difficult for some to believe they are in a safe space, much less on holy ground, and still less that God wants to offer them tender healing at this time.
Indeed, part of the reason that places like the Pulse nightclub are important in the LGBT community is that, for many, they are islands of acceptance and safety in a world that offers little of either.
But in times of great lament and fear, the Church also has a tremendously important role to play.
It is Scripture that teaches us that God’s dream for the world is a dream of peace, where nation shall not rise against nation, and neither shall they know war, anymore. It teaches us that God is already at work in the world, bringing light from darkness, and hope from despair, patiently working for the day when the lion shall lie with the lamb.
It’s Galatians that says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That’s a reminder that our life in Christ is a call to see and know one another in ways that reach across our differences. We’re called to affirm one another as children of God, deserving dignity and care, and to work for a world that is one, as God made it and always intended it to remain.
This is a story that vulnerable, scared people need especially to hear right now.
It’s a story that they need to see all of us living out as peacemakers, healers, and people of good will.
Sadly, not all churches seem to understand this. I can’t help but think of grieving parents, calling their pastor to arrange for a child’s funeral, being told that the church will not participate because of that child’s lifestyle. There are too many stories like that, even today.
That’s why I’m so heartened to know that our denomination is sending thoughtful people to help wherever and however they can. Even if it is only to weep alongside those who weep.
In times of great darkness, it is so important that we affirm the power of light. May we seek to bring that light to those who dwell in the darkness of their grief and fear. May we work for a world where each and every child of God finds a place to live and love with joy.
See you in church,