Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It was a year ago this week that we witnessed the massacre of the Mother Emanuel nine and the words of grace and forgiveness their families spoke to the gunman before a judge. Now, we are confronted with another hate crime in Orlando where a man who claimed allegiance to Isis slaughtered 49 and wounded 53 men and women of the LGBT community early Sunday morning.
It is the worst mass shooting in American history and has cast a dark shadow of mourning and loss across our country. There are no adequate words to express this kind of hate and evil.
We join our prayers for God’s comfort and strength to be with all the families of those who were shot or wounded in this nightclub. We also pledge our support for our brothers and sisters of the LGBT community in protecting their freedom from all forms of hatred and violence.
Further we recognize that many of our Muslim friends and neighbors will be unfairly ostracized because of the actions of this individual. We promise to stand with them in working together for justice and peace in our communities and reject those who would use this tragedy to stir up fear and prejudice.
In Jesus’s teachings on the Sermon on the Mount we recall his instruction to love our enemies, to pray for those who seek us harm, to practice being peacemakers in all our relationships, and to be merciful towards others as our Father in heaven is merciful. In these ways we help the light and love of God to shine forth into all the dark and hurting places in our world.
I invite you to keep before you the prayer that is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and let it guide your thoughts, words and actions towards others.
Make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Herman Yoos
South Carolina Synod, ELCA