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by Kate Kooyman
This response and prayer was written by Kate Kooyman, Sophia Henager, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, and Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, all from the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice , and was originally sent as an email to subscribers of the OSJ Prayers newsletter, which gives weekly summaries and prayers for justice issues around the world.
If you’re struggling to know what to say, and how to say it, when addressing the shooting in Orlando in personal prayer or during Sunday worship, consider using this summary and prayer:
Last Sunday morning at about 2:00 a.m., a 29-year-old man entered a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, armed with an assault rifle and a handgun. He opened fire, killing at least 49 people and injuring at least 53. The gunman then took hostages. He was killed by the police around 5:00 a.m. in a shootout.
This is the largest mass shooting in modern United States history. The majority of the victims are members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to law enforcement, the gunman legally purchased the two guns used in the shooting. The assault rifle, an AR – 15, is the same type of gun used in the Sandy Hook and San Bernardino shootings. This is the 133rd mass shooting in the U.S. this year.
The shooter, a U.S. citizen, reportedly declared allegiance to the Islamic State before the attack. The Muslim community in the U.S. has issued statements condemning the attack, but nonetheless is now experiencing backlash in the form of threats and public statements to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
Join us as we stand in solidarity and mourn with the LGBTQ+ community, as we denounce hate crimes and prejudice directed against any group, and as we stand against violence, hatred, and scapegoating of entire communities.
God of comfort, we lift our prayers to you.
We lift prayers for the families, friends, and partners of the victims, for all of those who are grieving.
For the questions which have no answers, we pray.
For those who wring their hands, bring dishes of food, struggle to express their condolences, we pray.
For pastors who plan funerals and stand at hospital beds, we pray.
For those who are estranged from a loved one because of sexual orientation, and who today feel grief and loneliness, we pray.
For those all over the U.S. who feel fresh grief because someone they love was also killed by a gun, we pray.
We lift prayers for the LGBTQ+ community.
Protect them from harm.
Heal them from trauma.
Lead them to places of hospitality and safety.
We lift prayers for the Muslim community.
Shield them from fallout.
Call Christians to reach out in mutuality and solidarity.
May the stories of the many Muslims who have responded in love, help, and hospitality be told often, and publicly.
We lift prayers for lawmakers.
Give them wisdom as they craft their public statements, which have an impact on real people’s lives.
Give them wisdom as they consider policy implications, which will always make some furious and others gratified.
Give them wisdom as they accept donations to their campaigns, as they align with interests, as they reach across the aisle and compromise.
Work through politics to build your kingdom, Lord.
We lift prayers for your church, which includes each one of us. May your church speak the words of Christ — of healing, hope, repentance, and good news.
We are a people who believe in resurrection. As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death in times such as these, may we see and be signs of kingdom hope. We long for the day when death will be no more.
Today, we make it official. While Kate Kooyman has appeared often as a guest blogger on The Twelve, now she is a regular contributor, appearing here every-other Thursday. Welcome!
Kate is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who serves in the Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Witness in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Image Credit: Flickr user David Yan