I was asked yesterday by a member of the LGBTQ community to lead a prayer at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando Pulse shooting. The vigil is tonight. Honestly, my initial reaction was to say, “No.” I had a good enough excuse. My husband is out of town and I would have to find a sitter on very short notice. But my immediate, introverted reaction is always to say, “No” because it is easier and more comfortable for me. The vigil is in a neighboring town twenty minutes away. It will keep me up later than I would like. I’m busy and I’m tired after having sick kids at home for a week. All I really want to do, I thought to myself when I received the invitation, is crash on the couch tonight and vegetate.
But then I considered the invitation some more. Because I am heterosexual, it’s easy for me to take a night off from the injustices the LGBTQ community experiences every day. That is the privilege of my sexual orientation. I will not be the target of a hate crime.
And then I recalled a few passages from Kelly Brown Douglas’ book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God that I just finished. In reference to the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, Douglas writes: “Jesus is the one who departs the space of the privileged class. In so doing he enters into solidarity with the most put-upon bodies of his day.” (p. 176.)
And this, more haunting quote: “As Daniel Day Williams says, ‘Justice is the order that love requires.’ The love of God that comes through the cross demands an unflinching solidarity with the crucified ones. For the church to be anywhere else is to be in the crucifying crowd, and thus to betray the very memory of the one who died on the cross, the memory of the one whom Christian churches are to bear.” (p. 202)
When I said “Yes” to praying tonight at the vigil, this was the response I received:
“Ooh my gosh thank you so much for coming tomorrow! I was so nervous we were going to end up with someone I didn’t know and didn’t trust to not say something awful!”
This exuberant response of gratitude made me feel terrible that I had even, for a second, contemplated saying, “No.” I am honored to be among the clergy this woman trusts to not say something terrible. But it also grieves me to know that others have said terrible things to her as a gay woman—and continue to do so.
So I’m writing my prayer for tonight. It’s a prayer of lamentation. This is what I have so far:
How long, O Lord? How long must we bear this pain and have sorrow in our heart? How long shall enemies be exalted over the oppressed and the marginalized? How long must we grieve over violence perpetrated against friends and loved ones, brothers and sisters, members of the communities to which we belong? How long must we filibuster before common sense prevails and gun laws are reformed? How long, O Lord? How long?
Hear our cries of lament, O God. Hear our cries of anger and grief, of protest and frustration. Hear our cries on behalf of all those who were silenced by hate in Orlando. On their behalf, we cry, O God. On behalf of the LGBTQ community, we will not be silent. On their behalf, we cry out against the injustice and pray for the strength to endure and persevere and fight hate with the almighty power of love.
Also, check out this song Melissa Etheridge wrote in response to the Pulse shooting. It’s pretty darn amazing.
[Feature Image: Victoria Pickering]