A Vigil for Orlando

“Jesus began to weep.” (John 11:35)

Edward Sotomayor Jr., we remember you.
Stanley Almodovar III, we remember you.
Juan Ramon Guerrero, we remember you.
KJ Morris, we remember you.
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla/Alanis Laurell, we remember you.
We remember you
We remember you
We remember you…

On Tuesday, June 21, eleven church and community members gathered at table to pray, break bread together, and remember the lives that were lost in the shooting at Pulse nightclub just a week before. We gathered to hold in sacred space our vulnerable humanities in all of their complexities, and to communally lament our overwhelming anger, experiences of doubt and betrayal, fears for safety, and deep grief. Our prayers were the sharing of our individual experiences (as LGBTQ and ally folks) tied together to the names and stories of those killed in Pulse, tied together with the ancient laments of Mary and Martha who wept at Jesus’ feet saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Our prayers became an altar built of pictures of God’s dancing beloveds and of our commitments voiced to one another.

There is no “right” way to respond to such tragedies. In the Christian faith, there is the story of the resurrection—a story that invites us to believe that death does not have the final word. In times such as these, we are called to explore resurrection as a call to continue coming together, to be the Body of Christ moving in this world, creatively and compassionately building up the Beloved Community. This is one of the ways life rises from death. Some of the resurrection commitments voiced during the gathering at Mission Bay included commitments to listen more fully to people and communities who are unsafe and to show up again and again as allies, to remember and share the names and stories of those who are killed, to live each day out loud as our whole selves, and to be attentive and responsible to the parts of the stories that get erased, be it the race, gender, sexuality or faith of people and communities involved. What are your resurrection commitments this day? In what ways will your life be part of the way life rises from death?

As the weeks continue to pass and stories of massacres and shootings surface each day—we remember also this week, the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—I pray that we learn and share our stories, the stories of the people we meet and the stories of those who have died and are dying. I pray that in the face of overlapping systemic evils including white supremacy, homophobia, Islamophobia, and gun violence, we commit ourselves to giving voice to our resiliency and to being more present allies and co-conspirators in the Spirit-filled work of justice that is dancing in the clubs and the streets, as well as in the churches and mosques. In the face of death, may we seek resurrection—may we come together to speak our truths, hold one another through suffering, and bind our lives to one another in all of our daily actions.

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