I arrived at St John’s Lutheran a few minutes into the processional hymn. Usually there are about 80 people worshipping but today all I could see was a sea of black suits as the entire Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus was sitting in the last 3 rows on each side of the sanctuary.
I took my pew seat and looked at the order of service. I immediately began to look for a kleenex in my purse because the service was dedicated to remembering and honoring the victims of the Orlando massacre in the Pulse nightclub. Their names were printed in the bulletin and I was already tearing up.
Pastors Frank and Leslie led us through a beautiful, emotional morning of worship. Jesus was among us, offering comfort, inviting us to express our sorrow at such a tremendous loss of life. Prayer is an act of love and we prayed a lot this morning.
The Gospel lesson was Luke 8: 26-39, the story of Jesus healing the man with many demons. Jesus asks the possessed man’s name and he answers Legion. Pastor Frank asked us to treat evil seriously and to name it: bigotry, and hatred. Jesus meets us here in this mess and helps us to expel the darkness and replace it with love.
It is disheartening to have to remember the innocents slain in another mass murder with a semi-automatic. It is salt in the wound to know that some “Christian” Pastors incite more violence with their vitriolic and hate-filled responses. It was wonderfully healing and a comfort to join with members of the St John’s community and ring a bell for each one murdered while their photo, name and age was shown on a large screen. We rang a bell for Omar Mir Seddique Matteen but did not show his photo in recognition that violence affects all involved. His family lost a son and have to live with this tragedy too.
Community can come in all forms. Worshipping together is one way of bringing diverse people together: strangers become the family of God. As Dorothy Day says in The Long Loneliness, “The only answer in this life, to the loneliness we are all bound to feel, is community. The living together, working together, sharing together, loving God and loving our brother, and living close to him in community so we can show our love for Him.” (p 243)
We gathered this morning and the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus sang:
No never, never will we have that first time, or this last time, or just this time.
Never get to live our lives all over. Never. Ever.
Oh! Life will take us where it will. New beginnings. Ends.
Take each moment as a gift. Give it back again.