Monday, June 13, 2016


Another mass shooting. I’ve lost track of the amount of them since I became a pastor. And I find myself thinking, I don’t feel like I have anything new to say. I really don’t. Nothing of substance. Nothing of note. There’s a constant urge to say something new. To get to the front and speak. But some days, you just need to mourn. Or stare at a tragedy until you find the capacity to mourn. These are 49 image bearers that no longer live. People who were made in the image of God, and had their lives snuffed out. We should be heartbroken by this.

But more than that, we also need to speak clearly on this as Christians. There is no place for violence against those in the LGBT community. Some are going to be tempted to say, they got what they deserve. No, they did not. No one deserves to be gunned down in cold blood. No one. I watched a pastor say that they deserved it. That kind of thinking has no place in the church.

Christians must not betray their own convictions on the subject of homosexuality. But Christians must never go beyond where the text takes us. There is no place for even considering justifying this. Murder is evil. This attack is sin. We must call it what it is, an assault on those who bear the image of God, and an evil to be decried.

The other think we need to do, is to guard against a temptation to use this to make an argument for our cause, whatever it is. There is a tendency to move to pet issues when something like this happens. It’s been evident in the news.

Shots fired. The shooter is Muslim. The problem is Islam.
Shots fired. The problem is guns.
Shots fired, God gave them what they deserved.

Sometimes, God allows us to look in the mirror and ask, “Where is our heart?” This weekend, different writers and politicians have put their spin on this and score political or social points. We must not do that.

The real question for us this day is, “Do you weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn”.

This is a time when we must weep. Whatever our disagreements with the gay community, this is not the time to have that conversation. Many of them are scared and stressed. They worry that this will happen in their cities and neighborhoods. Will we love? Will we weep? Will we offer hugs and comfort? Will we hold up hope and say, we stand for your protection, safety, and best?
There is no place for violence against the gay community. No one should be physically assaulted because they are gay or lesbian. Pray for the peace of Orlando, and pray that in this moment, they receive not our begrudging nods that this is bad, but real, true heartfelt compassion.

Let me end this, with a prayer. I did not write it. My friend Brandon did. It appeared originally at his blog.

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. (Habakkuk 1:2-3)

Gracious Father,

As we wrap our minds and hearts around this weekend’s tragedy in Orlando—the murderous rampage of an Islamic terrorist targeting the LGBT community—we’re shocked by the magnitude of callous hatred, devastated by the sweeping loss of life, and reminded yet again that this world is severely and sickeningly broken.

Moreover, we confess that at times like this we wonder where you are and why this happened. This is not how your world is supposed to work. Human life is precious to you—every soul made in your image. Our hearts break at the thought of cries for help going unanswered amid the attack. We mourn with the families and friends whose lives have been forever changed through such wanton violence. And we join their cry, “How long, O Lord?”

How long will violence go unanswered?
How long will fear and hatred rule our culture?
How long until you bring an end rebellion and sin on this earth?

We know that moments like this are not times for explanations, but first and foremost for grief and mourning. And so raise our voice in lament over this tragedy.

And yet we know that even when it doesn’t feel like it, you do hear our prayers. You do see the violence committed on earth. And you have promised to act. The day will come when you will bring the ungodly to justice and wipe every tear from our eyes. A day when mourning will cease and death will be no more. And we have confidence in that day because you have already acted to establish justice, conquer death, and offer mercy through the life, death, and resurrection of your eternal Son, Jesus Christ. In Christ there is hope, and in that hope we pray:

WE PRAY for the victims and their families, those for whom this is not some distant news story, but a personally crushing blow. We ask that you hold them in their grief, and comfort them in their loss, anger, and devastation. Fill them with a comfort that can only come from your Son.

WE PRAY for justice for the perpetrators. Not only for the gunman, who now awaits your divine judgment, but for the culture of death that radical jihadist Islam has fueled in this world. Would you open blind eyes to the evil of this corrupt and corrupting system. For those who are attracted to the idea of worshiping god through murder and hate, would you convict them of sin and open their eyes to the truth, forgiveness, and new life of Christ.

WE PRAY for those in the LGBT community, upon whom a shroud of fear has now descended through this weekend’s tragedy. No person deserves to live in fear of their life being taken, especially because of something like sexual orientation. Would you remind each person that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious in your sight, and loved by their Creator. Would you work in our world to bring about changes that protect and honor the dignity of all human life, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, developmental ability, or age. Would you help those in the LGBT community to look to you for strength and security, and not to what this world can offer. Guard their lives and guide their steps to a love and security that nothing in this world can take away—the love and security of new life in Christ.
WE PRAY that our churches would be places of safety and love for the LGBT community, and that our Christian witness would be one of hope and not hatred. May we not let our differences of conviction about sexuality and marriage allow us to tolerate hatred or withhold dignity and respect. May we stand united against hatred and terror, and work together for the protection and preservation of all human life, even as we continue to hold out the life-changing message of the gospel.

WE PRAY, finally, that our Lord Jesus Christ would come again. We long for the day when Christ himself will “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). Come Lord Jesus.

In Christ’s powerful name, Amen.