Responding to the Violence in Orlando (2016)

What do we, as people of the Christian faith who live in Minnesota do with the news of the mass killings in Orlando?

As of Wednesday June 15, 2016, we know that because one man decided to go on a rampage of violence, 50 people are dead, 53 people are hospitalized,  many more  injured, and countless number of people whose lives will never be the same.

In our nation’s capital there was a moment of silence for the victims and their families. Some people walked out during this time of silence saying it was time to stop being respectfully silent and time for action. I would agree and disagree. Silence in and of itself does very little. At best, a pause in our busy lives for remembering the victims makes us mindful of the tragedy that occurred and that real people were involved. This can lead to a gamut of emotions that can in turn lead to actions but not always God-ly actions.

Taking time to be silent and pray – that is the beginning of real action. God does listen to our cries, enters into our time and space, and makes a difference. There are many things to pray for during this time of discernment and healing and many ways to pray.

Shepherd of the Valley, along with 12 other faith communities, will participate in #OneLight Candlelight Vigil of Hope on Sunday, June 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Festival Grounds Pavilion in Eagan. You are invited to join us as ONE community to respond with love and light against fear and hatred.

Let me suggest one additional way you might make a difference in the lives of the families and friends of those who have lost a loved one in this carnage. 

Many newspapers and websites have published the names of those who have died, along with photos and brief bios. Here is an example from USA Today and one from NPR, but feel free to choose your own favorite news source.

Choose one person. Sit in a position in which your hands are palms up. First, thank God for the life of this person and for the gift they were to those who loved and cared for them. Second, imagine holding in your arms those who are  mourning the loss of that person. Ask God to help bear the load of grief for all those who love this person. Imagine God’s arms supporting your arms. Ask for healing, peace and direction in the lives of the people who are grieving. Ask God to provide for their needs and not what you think they might need.

Close your prayer time by handing over all the burdens and people to God. Imaging God embracing you with God’s healing love.

I would encourage you to pray for at least a month for one or two families. So often after the initial shock of a tragedy has worn offwe forget about our brothers and sisters in need and stop praying for them. Let us not forget, nor keep silent, let us pray and make a difference.

Pastor Maggie Novak
Interim Pastor

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