Prayer Vigil in Remembrance Lives Lost at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL on June 12, 2016
Methodist Federation for Social Action
June 16, 2016
Elyse Ambrose, Edgar Diaz, Vicki Flippin, K Karpen, Bruce Lamb, Joey Lopez, Dorlimar Lebron Malave, Lea Matthews, Jonathan Rodríguez-Cintrón, Siobhan Sargent, Jeff Wells
We come to this space feeling many different things. Some among us are angry that we continue to stand by as gun violence destroys lives, families, and whole communities. Some are angry that our nation has been debating the safety of gendered bathrooms, all while someone planned to violate the safe space of the queer club, all while the truly vulnerable continue to be harmed. Some are angry. You are not alone.
Some among us are feeling extreme grief that so many lives were cut short, that some were people whose families only learned about their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression as a result of their injuries or death. Some are despairing that this act is already fanning the flames of Islamophobia and homophobia, and that we ourselves as Christians and as United Methodists are culpable as we participate in these very forms of prejudice. Some are lost in grief and despair. You are not alone.
Some among us are feeling vulnerability and fear, thinking…”It could've been me or my child or my friend.” We wonder about our own Pride celebrations, about our own favorite bars and clubs. We wonder where and when we will feel safe again. Some are afraid. You are not alone.
Some of us fear erasure, that this will fade from the news cycle in a week or two, that it'll be seen primarily as anti-American and not specifically anti-queer, that the fact that it was Latin night with trans talent at a gay club is already being whitewashed out of the story. Some want the story to remain honest. You are not alone.
Some of us are feeling resolve. Through tears, we want to shout that our communities are stronger this, that this kind of attack is meant to make us cower into hiding, and we refuse. Some are resolute. You are not alone.
Wherever you are, we seek to create a safe space here to prayerfully feel and process. But we also know that some among us may not be feeling prayerful or close to God at all this week, and you are also welcome to just sit in wholly appropriate anger and disorientation for this time. Whatever you are called to feel and do tonight, just know that you are not alone.
Opening Song and Psalm 46: 1-3, 11
I Believe – The words of I Believe were found etched onto a wall of Auschwitz. The author is unknown.
One: God is our refuge and strength, a very present[a] help in trouble.
All: I believe in the sun, I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.
One: Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
All: I believe in love, I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it.
One: though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
All: I believe in God, I believe in God, even when God is silent.
One: The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Call to Worship
One: We come to this sacred space desperate to find community.
All: We will not fear.
One: We pound our fists in rage; we cry out to God in grief.
All: We act together.
One: Where targeted violence against our queer community has threatened to tear us apart,
All: We stand as one.
One: Where others, including many in our faith communities, and even our own United Methodist Church, deem the 50 lives lost expendable and unworthy,
All: We claim them. We are Orlando.
One: Where brown and black bodies feel the sting of violence in racialized, disproportionate, and systemic ways,
All: We name that sustained pain and demand change.
One: When hate co-opts this horrific attack and attempts to blame others for it,
All: We reject Islamophobia and stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
One: When we are meant to run scared and to feel the targets on our backs,
All: We say “NO!”
One: No, we will not stop our lives, our loving, our being.
All: No, we will not!
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
Cansado estoy de llamar; mi garganta se ha enronquecido; los que me aborrecen sin causa se han aumentado más que los cabellos de mi cabeza.
Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Y no escondas tu rostro de tu siervo; Porque estoy angustiado; apresurarte, óyeme.
Acércate a mi alma, redímela; líbrame a causa de mis enemigos.
For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
Song I Choose Love Mark A. Miller
I Choose Love was written by Lindy Thompson and Mark Miller after the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the shooting that killed 9 people in that sacred sanctuary. This week we mourn the loss of 50 in another sacred sanctuary.
Prayers of the People
One: We pray a prayer of heartbroken confession that the Pulse nightclub was more safe, more sacred, more welcoming, more diverse, more full of love and grace than so many of our churches. We confess and grieve that we are a part of a denomination where the bigotries and traumas of the outside world are repeated instead of healed. We grieve that, because of our church laws, people are made to feel fearful coming into our sanctuaries and coming before our boards of ordained ministries and coming out to their pastors. We grieve that, perhaps as occurred in the life of Omar Mateen, our faith community’s bigotry convinces families and friends of queer people that they should be shunned, badgered, harassed, abused, and abandoned. We grieve the damage we do to queer people among us. We bow our heads in shame and ask for your grace and your mercy and your transformation. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Two: We pray for Muslim individuals and communities in our nation and around the world. We ask that you would give us the strength to resist allowing Islamophobia to be perpetuated in our name. We pray for solidarity among Muslims, all people of color, and queer people in this moment, that we might all find what unites us, that we might stand together against crimes of hate and discrimination and violence. We pray for the safety of all of these communities here and around the world. We pray for honesty and healing for any past sins we may have committed against one another and for a future of love and truth in our intersectional struggles for freedom. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
One: We pray to you for all victims of violent crime, including the almost 500 of your beloved children who are murdered in Chicago every year. We lift up to you every life that may be saved by more compassionate and meaningful public policies, including better gun control, criminal justice reform, more equitable public schools and employment opportunities, and policies that address mental health, including trauma and addiction. We pray for a more just accounting of racism in our nation, and we pray to you for a nation that does not allow xenophobia and hate to have a place in our national discourse. We ask that you would guide us individually and as communities of faith to understand how to best effect holy change in our nation. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Two: We pray for our enemies, for Omar Mateen and his family and friends. We pray a prayer for his soul that emerges from a place of pain and anger. We pray words that we may not yet mean, and we ask you to hold, along with our disgust and our grief. But we also pray for him and other troubled souls to know your unconditional love, your justice, your grace, your mercy. We grieve over the parts of him that were so human, so like us, so beloved in your sight. We confess that we ourselves have been tempted by the self and other hatred that Mateen succumbed to. We ask that you would not contaminate our hearts with hatred toward this man, but that you would only bring resurrection and love out of these horrific deaths. And we pray that he and all who have died might find peace in you. Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
(We have paraphrased Psalm uses inclusive pronouns to humbly acknowledge the all emcompassing magnitude and inclusivity of God.)
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
They make me lie down in green pastures;
she leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
They lead me in right paths
for their name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff— they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Naming Those We Have Lost “Presente!”
(We will read the name of each person. Following the reading of each name we offer each of these children of sacred worth up to God by saying “Presente!.”)
One: Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
One: Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
One: Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
One: Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
One: Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
One: Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
One: Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
One: Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
One: Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
One: Cory James Connell, 21 years old
One: Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
One: Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
One: Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
One: Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
One: Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
One: Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
One: Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
One: Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
One: Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
One: Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
One: Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
One: Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
One: Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
One: Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
One: Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
One: Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
One: Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
One: Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
One: Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
One: Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
One: Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
One: Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
One: Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
One: Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
One: Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
One: Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
One: Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
One: Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
One: Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
One: Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
One: Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
One: Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
One: Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
One: Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
One: Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
One: Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
One: Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
One: Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
One: Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Moment of Silent Remembrance
Song God is Able
May I be safe.
May I be valued.
May I be well.
May I be at peace.
(self, someone else, all beings)