I was on my way to church when I saw the news. My feet pounded the pavement as I weaved through the skyscrapers that surrounded me with their various shades of endless grey. Orlando. The breaking of my heart wasn’t instant; it lingered in the temporary sphere of disbelief and denial, still recovering from the last violent rupture that had occurred too recently, too close to this one. It’s not possible, not again, I’d told myself. My inner dialogue of self-reassurance was frantic, running along before the reality hit me all at once, all at the same time. My soul collapsed under the weight of that instant grief.
On the feed of my Twitter, I saw that the deadliest mass shooting in American history had occurred the night before while I’d rested quietly at home, oblivious. The afternoon before it happened, I’d met up with my friend, Kevin, at a conference for the LGBTQ+ community. “This is just the most accepting and open-minded place,” he’d told me; the excitement he’d felt about the love that flooded the four walls of the convention center was intoxicating.
After I’d heard the news, I walked past the set-up for the Pride Parade. The rainbow colors of hope suddenly felt ironic. “I feel so bad for the people at the Pride Parade,” I told my friend Dominique after church, wiping away tears as we walked together, “Last night has to be weighing on the whole day. It HAS to be.”
What do we do when someone else’s sin destroys the world that much? When the hatred in their heart is so all-encompassing that seeking to annihilate another human being because they exist is the only way it can seek out relief?
What we can do is pray. To pray at our desks, to pray on our walk, to pray when we’re lying in bed and before and after dinner and wherever we are, to just drop down on our knees and pray. Wherever you are sitting with your grief today, pray this prayer for the LGBTQ+ community with me.
Help us to never forget that you are a good, good father, even on the days when our grief is so heavy that our lungs struggle to breathe and our sorrow is so all-encompassing that we can’t even see through our own tears. Let your love and mercy wash down over us and push away our salt water tears with your living water so that we can be cleansed and made new again and again and again.
There are so many things that we need to say to our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Christ but cannot find the strength to or the words for. I ask that you strengthen our arms so that we can hold them. I ask that you open our hearts so that those who disagree on an issue can place politics aside and love. I ask that you open my mouth so that I can have the courage to say the words of love and hope and “I don’t even know what to say”s to my LGBTQ+ friends that I feel called to speak but don’t know how to.
I ask that you help us to remove this idolatry of categorization and labelling. Help your children to repent of this view of the LGBTQ+ community as “other.” Help us to repent of the emotional distance we have in our minds between their humanness and their sexual orientation.
Father God, you take brokenness and sin and tragedy and make it new. I hope against all the hopes that you will use this day to help Christians, regardless of their theology, welcome gay people into their family today. To put issues and convictions aside and tell them, “Sweet, beautiful, human. You are stunning. I am in AWE of how fearfully and wonderfully made you are. This is a church. This is a family of Christ. These are children of God. And you are so very welcome here.”