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A Father's Thoughts on This Fathers' Day

Summary: A father and pastor speaks of both joy and deep sorrow on this Father’s Day after the tragedy of Orlando.

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June 19, 2016. At the close of a full Father’s Day I am feeling very blessed, but as the silence and darkness of night settles in, I find myself in deep sorrow for forty-nine fathers who have lost one reason to celebrate this day. I grieve your loss at the hands of an individual intent on horrific evil one week ago in Orlando.

I grieve too, for other victims in the LGBT community I have known over the last four-and-a-half decades. Friends who died of AIDS. Friends who ended their own lives. Friends who felt every isolating comment and hurtful exclusion, intentional hate, or unintended poor choice of words or actions.

I also grieve for those I have known or just met in passing, young and old, who are dead; not physically, but by the declaration of their own fathers or family. I pray that on this day, fathers would reconcile, accept, and love their LGBT sons and daughters - before some accident, or grief too big to carry, or stranger intent on evil, snatches that opportunity away forever.

I wish that I could give "free Dad hugs" to all who need that embrace, but that is a poor substitute, an insufficient balm. I could not conceive of turning away from any of my children, or the friends who have trusted me to share part of their journey and story... cross-generational, cross-cultural, within both LGBT and non-LGBT communities.

I am sorry for those times when my words and actions have failed you.

I thank you for your willingness to stay engaged in the conversation.

I have had a blessed day, and will not guilt myself out of the pleasure of that knowledge. I am joyful and hopeful for my tomorrows but I will not shield myself from shared sorrows and the deep pain of loss this day now holds for many. I am praying for each of you and all of you while I have an opportunity, as the silence and darkness of night settle in. I am praying for the light. I grieve, but not as one without hope. 

Posted by Tom Herrmann with

Praying for Orlando

Summary: Following the tragic shooting in Orlando this past weekend, our teaching team felt the need to respond. In this post, Jocelyn Peirce, who serves on our Next Gen ministry staff, offers perspective and hope at this challenging time.

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My husband gets the news alerts on his iPhone, so when breaking news hits, he’s usually the first one to let me know.

“There was an attack on a nightclub in Paris.”
“There was an attack in an airport in Brussels.”
“There’s a shooting going on in San Bernardino.”

And this past Sunday morning, we woke again to devastating news: “There was a shooting in a nightclub in Orlando last night. They’re not sure what happened. Twenty dead, more wounded. They think it was terrorism. They’re not sure.”

We know more now, but the more we’ve learned the more terrible the news grows. Forty-nine innocent victims, even more wounded, and many facing life-long medical battles. Families mourning, worried, and anxious. First responders who put themselves in harm’s way are left traumatized. An entire community has had to face the reality: It happened here. And the rest of us are left feeling, again, it could have happened here.

And more specifically, we know that this attack targeted an LGBT gathering place, and there are LGBT individuals, families, and communities who are reeling. Pulse has been known as a place where people who felt like they didn’t belong could find belonging. It was a place named in honor of the founder’s brother, who died from AIDS, to keep his memory alive: pulse.

We feel the weight of their grief, and we pray for them along with the many others who are struggling in these days after such a terrible act of violence. We pray for the victims and their loved ones, who need comfort in the midst of unspeakable sadness. We pray for the community and the neighbors and schoolkids and the police and doctors. We’re thankful for the police and medical personnel who responded to the call of an active shooter with skill and without hesitation. Seeing the images of everyday people who ran to the scene to offer whatever help they could, from a comforting hug to their own blood, makes us resolve to do the same if the need ever arises.

Still we are left wondering, what now? Where is God in all of this, and how do we respond? Our teaching series on Sunday mornings this year has been all about Jesus, and our question at the end of this series has been: where is Jesus now? We’ve been exploring the notion that Jesus is here, right now. He is present in our sorrow and in our fear and in our questions. The book of Revelation, the mysterious book at the very end of the Bible, uses a strange picture to describe him, calling Jesus both lion and lamb. He is the lion whose strength brings justice on earth, putting things right. Yet he is also the lamb, who in the face of violence responds so differently than our instinct would tell us to. He lays down his life, showing us the way of love and mercy and grace.

The coming weeks will bring more information, even as life goes on and our news feeds shift away from this coverage to new headlines. We want to do something, but what? The words may seem trite, but they are powerful: in this moment, we love, unconditionally. We sit with our friends in the pain and grief they are experiencing. We choose a posture of listening as we encounter people who may have different experiences than us. And above all, I think our beliefs, the picture we have of Jesus as the Lamb, call us to stand with the LGBT community against hatred and persecution and rejecting violence against any community. We choose the way of the Lamb.

We reach out to our LGBT friends and neighbors. We stand with those who have suffered loss and trauma. We listen.

And we pray.