Responding To and Remembering – #prayfororlando

Our hearts are stirred and broken over the mass shooting in Orlando Sunday – the deadliest mass shooting in US history which left 49 dead and 53 injured.

How do you compute this? How do you make sense of it? What do you do with all the questions, the feelings of violation, the abruptness of an act of terror and the personal fear that ensues? These questions have surfaced before in the Columbine shooting, 911, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Boston Marathon attack, at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, in San Bernadino and will likely surface again.

After I turned on my phone to check the weather Sunday morning and the Orlando alert flashed across the screen of my phone, I felt this wave of sudden sadness fall over me. Once more our country had been inflicted with a senseless, tragic act that would take weeks, months and years or many never to recover from. Oh, how I longed for the powerful Presence of Christ to be so real to all those involved and for clarity as to how to respond. You may have experienced the same impact once you knew the news.

 Jim Denison’s post on Sunday morning was particularly helpful and instructive. In his cultural commentary he called on Christians to pray with passion, honesty and hope.

To quote: “As I have watched the news reports, I have sensed the grief of our Father for his children. While Pulse is one of the best-known gay nightclubs in Orlando, Baptist ethicist Russell Moore was exactly right when he tweeted, "Christian, your gay or lesbian neighbor is probably really scared right now. Whatever our genuine disagreements, let's love and pray.”

Responding to the call for prayer and compassion places hope in the midst of great grief and shock. This is an invitation to be the hands and feet of Christ. Many of the sites concluded with the hash tag #prayfororlando.

Karla Zazueta in her bible.org post Monday morning gave clarity to the need to mourn and enter into the grief of the families and friends http://blogs.bible.org/engage/karla_zazueta/a_letter_to_orlando_.

News media, web sites and Facebook tell the response of the public and businesses. The amazing out pouring of help is overwhelming: to save lives, to provide food to those waiting in line at OneBlood blood bank, to help meet the needs of families without health insurance, to provide trauma counseling, flights to the families of victims – to name a few. http://www.snopes.com/2016/06/14/chick-fil-a-orlando-shooting/

Comfort dogs and their handlers came to comfort and assist from a number of states.

Nine surgeons at Orlando Regional Medical Center were called into work early Sunday morning, working non-stop for more than 24 hours. Dr. William Havron, another trauma surgeon working Sunday as the victims poured in, described the night as a “surreal experience.”

“We literally walked from that operating room to another operating room again and again.” http://www.wptv.com/news/state/orlando-trauma-surgeons-share-their-stories http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jun/14/doctors-describe-er-chaos-after-orlando-massacre/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

As we continue to process and seek God in the midst of the aftermath, we must remember:
•    We may be caught off guard but God is not – He is still sovereign. “The Lord has established His throne in the heaves, and His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 103: 19

*     We have the Presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit within us to comfort and sustain, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18 “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

*  We are still living on earth and evil has not been eliminated yet. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.”         John 16:33

•    We have hope in Christ and His death on the cross and He anchors our soul. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19-20
•    We have the opportunity to spend time ourselves in the Presence of Christ for Him to anchor our soul  – you need a buffer of silence with Him for your soul to calibrate the impact of this event. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130: 5

•    We have the privilege of praying for and loving others in the name of Christ and offering them a way out of the darkness. As believers we are chosen by God and have a purpose here as long as we are breathing – “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of Him who called you our of darkness into His wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9

May God encourage you in the days ahead with the Peace and Presence of Christ.

The words of Martin Luther’s hymn – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, 1529 are as powerful now 2016 – Orlando. This was the hymn we sang in my church Sunday right after the news of the shooting was released.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
 Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; 
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still.


Picture credit kwwl.com

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.