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Essay

A Lament for the Victims of the Orlando Shootings

By June 13, 2016 2 Comments
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By Brian Keepers

Dear Readers,

It’s been a privilege to join “the 12” as one of the regular bloggers, and to share the “Monday spot” rotation with Rebecca Koerselman (I love reading her posts). Because Sundays are usually pretty full for me as a pastor by vocation, I usually try to write my blog post on Saturdays and set it up to be automatically posted/delivered early Monday morning.

That was the case for today’s post that went out this morning, which was written before the terrible shootings in Orlando that occurred early Sunday morning. This horrendous act of violence is the deadliest mass shooting in American history, with the death toll up to 50 so far and 53 more wounded. There is still much that is under investigation, and I’m sure more details will unfold in the days ahead. It is not my intent here to offer extensive reflection on this tragedy, but as blogger for “the 12”, a pastor, and a Christian, it didn’t seem right to let today go by without acknowledging in this space what has happened and extending sympathy to all the victims and their friends and families.

In a time like this, not even 48 hours after the tragedy, it’s difficult to find the words to write something. I imagine in the days ahead some of my fellow bloggers will seek to do so with a good measure of thoughtfulness, insight, honesty, and eloquence.

Perhaps all we can do today is groan with sighs too deep for words. Maybe the best thing we can do right now is borrow the words from our ancient prayer book, the Psalms, and practice lament. We lament, as Christians, not only as an act of solidarity with those who are the victims of this hate crime and their loved ones who grieve. We lament as an act of protest: it is our first step of resistance in the face of injustice and violence, our way of bearing witness to another world, a better world. As Karl Barth says, “The law of prayer is the law of action,” and when we dare to pray “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” we “revolt and fight against” a world that is not yet the way it is supposed to be.

So I would like to borrow these words from Psalm 10 (verses 12-18) and offer them as a lament for the victims, their loved ones, and all who find themselves impacted by this terrible tragedy:

Rise up, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God,
and say in their hearts, “You will not
call us to account?”

But you do see! Indeed you note
trouble and grief,
that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
you have been the helper of the
orphan.

Break the arm of the wicked and
evildoers;
seek out their wickedness until you find none.
The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations shall perish from his land.

O LORD, you will hear the desire of the
meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you
will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the
oppressed,
so that those from the earth may strike
terror no more.

 

Brian Keepers is the Minister of Preaching and Congregational Leadership at Fellowship Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan.

Brian Keepers

Brian Keepers is the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa.

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