God Have Mercy
It wasn't until after I had preached my sermon for the second time yesterday (June 12) that I heard about the horrible, brutal murders of 50 people (and injuries of that number and more) at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida in the early hours of that morning. As we know now, the shooter was a Muslim--there are reports that he called 911 prior to the massacre, stating his allegiance to the leadership of ISIS; ISIS representatives have since called him "a soldier of the caliphate in America," thereby praising his actions. Pundits are surely debating today whether it was a hate crime or terrorism--surely it was both, but does it matter?
It seems ironic that my sermon yesterday focused on the need for Christians to love all of the people God places in our paths, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or lifestyles. In retrospect, I would not have changed one line of my message, had I known of the incident prior to our worship services. My sole regret in not knowing is that I was unable to say anything about it to our congregation, nor to call us to prayer.
I suspect that there will be politicians who will attempt to use this tragedy for political purposes--it seems like they inevitably do. And although it hurts to say it, I am sure that there will be some Christians who will have difficulty looking past the facts that (a) the scene was a bar, (b) the victims were mostly gay, and (c) the shooter was a Muslim. And, of course, the Westboro Baptist Church folks in Topeka have already begun their barrage of hateful commentary, explaining exactly why they believe these killings took place.
May I suggest another view? Each death was the result of murderous hatred. Each victim was a human being who had friends and family and loved ones, all of whom are grieving today. I can't help but ask the same question I posed in my message yesterday: which people does God say it is okay for us not to love?
Please--let's pray for the bereaved friends and families who are grasping for comfort in the wake of this senseless brutality. Let's mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep. Does not our God draw near to the brokenhearted? Does he not call us to do the same?
God have mercy.