In light of the tragic shooting in Orlando, several of our ON Scripture writers took a few moments to reflect on these tragic events. To continue the conversation, join us on Twitter at #ONscripture.
Yet another mass shooting. But this one stands out. Not just because of its sheer numbers. The Orlando shooting encompasses so many ills in our society--homophobia, terrorism, hate in the name of religion, and the epidemic of gun violence--to name a few.
The victims were targeted precisely because of their identity. They were subjected to hate simply for being who they are--gay and Latino--doubly marginalized.
1 John 2:9-17 talks about hate as a condition that both results from living in darkness and undermines one's ability to see. Even as the shooter was meticulously targeting his victims, he had allowed hate to cloud his ability to see their worth as humans. His hate robbed them of their freedom. And his own.
Human proclivity for hate has repeatedly reared its ugly head in our nation's history. But civilized and enlightened societies have an obligation to ensure that such hate does not gain access to weapons of mass killing.
As tragic as the shooting is, it will be a bigger tragedy if we allow an act of hate against one doubly marginalized community to be used as a justification to perpetuate hate against another doubly marginalized community--Muslim Americans.
The author of 1 John calls upon the people of faith to see through such politics and hate and division.
I woke up Sunday morning to go to my LGBTQI affirming church to preach about extravagant love. But I also woke up to the devastating news of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. My sermon changed. It had to. The news was devastating. Unfortunately, this news is not new anymore. Mass shootings have become all too familiar in our world. This was hate. Pure and simple. Yes, it was also terrorism, but at the root of this tragic event is hate and easy access to guns. I preached today about love in the face of hate. I preached for my LGBTQI friends and family. I preached for a new world where we don't say, "another mass shooting?" and assume nothing will change. It has to. Love is love is love is love. And I believe God is clear - love wins.
It would be too simple to label the mass shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando on Sunday morning as only an "act of terror." It would be too easy to say it was simply the work of one radical Muslim or, more generally, radical Islam. This shooting must give pause to all religious peoples, including Christians, to recognize how the radical, fundamentalist, and even bigoted rhetoric from the fringes of any faith community-coupled with the silence and indifference of the vast majority of its members-contributes to the continued labeling, exclusion, and even targeting of members of the LGBTQI community. In this Sunday's Epistle reading, we hear again from Paul's Letter to the Galatians that "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Our faith communities must take this verse about the radical inclusion we share in Christ, which transcends and defies every way we attempt to divide the human community, just as seriously and proclaim it just as loudly-and louder-than those that would use other portions of the Bible or any other sacred text to engender suspicion or hate. We must reclaim and articulate again both within our faith communities, and to the world, Paul's vision of a people united by and within the love of God. For, God's Reign is no place for hate.
Last night at our Solomon's Porch Sunday Gathering I was struck by the importance of all of us having places of connection and community where those who are targeted can be safe; and those who are put-down are treated as equals; and those who are left-out are fully included. This need is made clear in the wake of the murders in the Pulse night club on Sunday. It brings to my mind the passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 9, "Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The size of the harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest.". May those who live in the way of Jesus be communities of compassion for the helpless and harassed so that no one is targeted, put-down and left-out.
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