Orlando suffered deeply this week. On our holy day, Sunday, early in the morning, 49 dear souls were lost to us at the hands of yet another mass shooting. I keep hearing the strains of people saying that Love will win out every time, and that love conquers hate. I believe that. I hope that. I dream that. I keep hearing about love…
All the while my heart is crying deep sobs in pain. Orlando has experienced tragedy and horror, and now families are visiting mortuaries and hospitals…some praying and hoping for their loved one to return to them whole, while others are planning memorials for their young.
The pain is cut deeper by what a wise woman, Rev. Jennifer Yocum, said on her Facebook post. She wrote to her straight friends, reminding them that the tragedy in Orlando was more than a shooting in a bar. Bars, she said, are places of sanctuary where people who have to hide go to be free in their own skin. They are “communication centers, communications hubs, our reminder that we are not alone.” And Jennifer takes it deeper. She reminds us that “when churches would not let us cross their thresholds, the bars were where we held our memorial services and our weddings.” (Ouch, Church!). And they are places where human rights are organized, where hope is born.
And then Jennifer states that in Orlando this week, an atrocity occurred against a group of Latino/Latina LGBTQ persons, who were doubly disavowed in culture. And #Pulse was a place that served as a “double sanctuary” for them.
Her words cut deep. For I know that we have not been Church or Sanctuary to many, and especially to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I attended our #UMC General Conference, and I felt the agony of once again being unable to state out loud that “open hearts, open minds, open doors” applies to All. Instead, it applies to those who are already “in,” those who are self-proclaimed as “valuable.”
So now there are three emotions rolling around my soul: Deep sadness/pain; revulsion…the feeling of throwing up; and hope for something different. The pain and sadness are about the loss of life and the persistence of evil. The revulsion is about my own United Methodist Church, that can’t decide to broaden the circle, and that forgot our central theological theme: Grace. It makes me sick to my stomach. The hope is that somehow, someway this will change. I don’t want change tomorrow. I want change to happen Now. Today. Immediately. #ItsTime for Love to win out over evil. There is no other way for us go forward.
Tears are flowing. God is crying with us. Today we mourn. And today we work to Love everyone, an action that crushes evil, an action born out of the understanding that God is Love. May.It.Be.So. Love You, #Orlando! Every single one of you.