This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,
There are days where we are at a loss of words for the horrors that continue to afflict our nation and the world. Today I find myself at a loss of words for the senseless tragedy that occurred in Orlando in the early morning hours of Sunday. I am at a loss of words, because not only do we, once again, mourn the victims of a mass shooting in our country, not only do we mourn the victims of a terror attack, but we mourn the deaths of a people who continue to struggle to find loving acceptance from many in our society, the LGBTQ community. I am at a loss of words because it could have easily been my spouse, numerous friends, or me killed in such an attack.
It is hard to respond in any way to such acts of violence, which test our faith and challenge our trust in God and in humanity. All we can do is rely on the Love of God and God’s power to see us through and offer prayers for lives lost and for communities devastated. Then after we pray we can act. We can pray for the strength to reach out in prayer and word to join in God’s reconciling work. We can, in fact we need to be, agents of compassion, comfort and peace.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) In the aftermath of these shootings we continue to see stories emerge of what needs to be named for what it is, Evil. Social media threads and news stories relate reactions to the massacre that cast blame on the Muslim Community, praise the killing of people in the LGBTQ community, or are simply deafening in their silence towards the truth of this tragedy. This, brothers and sisters, is what evil looks like and it is easy to allow ourselves to be overcome by this evil, which tries to make us feel powerless. But through the grace of God we have been given true power the power of forgiveness, compassion and love. God is present in this tragedy and can be seen by the acts of compassion of people of all faiths that are refusing to let evil overcome. So, let us not be overcome by this Evil, but let us reach out and overcome the evil with all that is good.
In response to this tragedy and this plague of evil that affects our nation and the world I invite you, your friends, your neighbors to join with me this week both in our lamentation but also by standing up for good.
Tonight at 7pm(Monday, June 13th), those who are able, are invited to join with me at the International Cultural Center, located at 19650 Club House Road, Suite, 2015, Montgomery Village, MD, 20886. St. Anne’s will be co-sponsoring an event with the Muslim Community, Montgomery County officials, concerned citizens to condemn the killing of innocent people and to stand together to show that bigotry and violence have no place in our society. Other co-sponsors, at this time are:
· Islamic Society of Germantown
· Haneefiya Islamic Center of America
· Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County
· IMAAM [Indonesian Muslim Association]
· Young Leaders Institute
· FreeState Legal
· Equality Maryland
· American Muslim Peace Initiative
· American Muslim Women's Empowerment Council
· Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Silver Spring
· Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
· Indonesian American Association [IAA]
· Islamic Center of Northern Virginia
· Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Foundation
· Inayat Begum Foundation
In addition, in place of our normal Wednesday Evening Healing Service, we will hold a vigil for those whose lives have been lost and healing for our nation. We will open the doors of our sanctuary, to any who wish to come, for a period of personal prayer and communal prayer for our nation. Wednesday, June 15 the sanctuary will open at 7:00pm for those who wish to pray and light a candle in remembrance of lives lost. Beginning at approximately 8:00pm, we will offer prayers for our nation and the world.
I hope that you will join me in overcoming evil with good. Blessings to you all, and may the peace of God be with you all.