In the wake of the terrible shootings in Orlando yesterday, the UTC College community offers its prayers and solidarity to all and any of our church members, students, staff and friends who belong to the LGBTQIA community. Even as our society and churches have become more embracing, this act of violence has left many feeling more insecure. This is more difficult given how hard can be for families and friends to accept the diversity of sexuality that is within our community, and what a difficult step it is to come out, and live a full and open life.
We wish to support family members too, who are left more anxious for the safety of loved ones. While we are a long distance from Florida, both geographically and perhaps philosophically, we are aware that hate crosses borders and oceans without scruple, and that blood soaked events in one place can trigger further violence elsewhere.
In all this we pray for and wish to console the injured, the mourning and the traumatized in Orlando: victims and families, partners and survivors, law enforcement officers and medical staff, citizens in shock, the Islamic community.
Adapted from prayers prepared in September 2001 by Rev. Paul Janssen, pastor of Pascack Reformed Church, New Jersey.
We gather as a community,
not because we wanted to, but because we felt compelled to;
because we couldn’t not be here,
for the families and victims of the Orlando shooting,
for those who have tended the wounded
and to stand alongside our LBGTIQ communities.
We gather as citizens who love our God
who cherish the freedoms we enjoy,
and who lament our innocence lost.
With sorrow we come;
in confusion and concern.
to speak to God and to one another;
and to lament.
Hear our prayers, O God, for those whose hands were covered in blood and those whose hands had carried out bodies, dead and alive. Help them to overcome their distress.
Be present, Lord, with those who are caring for the hospitalised
and for those who are surrounding those who have lost loved ones
with love and support. May they greet the living with hands of mercy and compassion.
Accompany all through your Holy Spirit who give listening and able ears to those who need consoling and especially to the next of kin of the victims.
Grant endurance and continued hope, O God, to all whose hands and hearts will forever bear the marks of the days ahead.
Against the backdrop of humanity at its worst, inspire them to be at their best.
Hear our prayer, O Lord our God, for the world.
Once again we have come to a time of horror asking the same questions
that we have asked before.
Be present with us as a global community as we seek
constant and wise counsel from those who lead.
Strengthen the resolve of those leaders
who do try to seek a calmer peace in this situation.
Hold us together as one people, Lord;
guard us from lashing out in prejudice against our neighbours.
Lord our God, have mercy upon us,
and grant us your peace.
Invite people to come forward and light a candle for peace.
We lift our most heartfelt prayers, O God,
for those who on this day are still waiting for word of their loved ones,
and for those who have already heard the worst.
We pray for those who are healing from injuries to body or mind.
We pray for those still unaccounted for.
We pray for moms and dads, sisters and brothers, friends and loved ones
who expected them to come home following their night out.
We pray for all families whose histories have been forever altered
as the effects of the shooting pass on from this generation.
We pray for those who remain in hospital, some near death.
And although it is but by your grace that we come here to pray,
we, too, mourn our own innocence lost, O Lord.
Enfold us with your compassion, uphold us with your love,
and keep us, and all who suffer, in your sight.
Grace us, O God; heal and embrace us,
and lead us from this darkness into your everlasting light.
Benediction is a good word. God’s good word reminds us that it is better to light a candle than merely to curse darkness; that God’s sure light shines in the darkness and that the darkness can never overcome it.
Friends, may God’s everlasting peace be with you now, and give us all the spirit to face whatever we have to face, now and into tomorrow’s tomorrows.