Responding to Orlando: Rainbows, and Our Capacity to Love and Hope

With Love from Pat
June 13, 2016

The early Sunday mass murders at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando are the latest in an endless stream of acts of violence, terrorism and hate that seems to have no limit and is reaching devastating flood proportions. Sunday’s killings launched another time of unimaginable horror and sadness in our nation, which has seen so many terrible things over the last years.

Many are asking what do we do now? Let me tell you a story:

The Rocky Mountain Annual Conference meeting ended Sunday morning. I went to the mountains later in the day to walk and reflect about the Orlando mass murders. During this time in the mountains, I wrote down two questions in a small notebook I carry with me almost always. Here are the questions:

Are there any limits to our capacity to intentionally hate?
Are there any limits to our capacity to intentionally hurt?

They were hard questions for me. But while I was thinking it started to rain – hard but not long. After the downpour I saw this:Rainbow

I was simply awe-struck! I count it as what I call providential mystery – God’s presence coming alive in totally unexpected ways. Think about it.

The rainbow is a biblical sign of God’s connection to all creation (and all means all). It goes back to the Noah stories. In the aftermath of the flood God says this:
I have placed my bow in the clouds; it will be the symbol of the covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:13)

The rainbow is also a sign of inclusiveness of all persons regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. It is the symbol we embrace as a church family that affirms the sacred worth of all persons and the reality that differences are blessings, that differences are the order of creation, and that differences are the way God intended for things to be.

And the rainbow is a sign of hope. Rainbows are a reminder that no matter what is happening around us, we have a chance to live in ways that bring God’s love to the world.
So after I saw the sign of the rainbow, I wrote down two more questions:

Are there any limits to our capacity to intentionally hope?
Are there any limits to our capacity to intentionally love?

St. Augustine said something like this: Hope has two beautiful daughters: Anger at the way things are, and Courage to do something about it. How can we use our anger, our frustration, our fear, our sadness, our pondering, and our prayers to create courageous, hope-filled, and love-filled responses to what happens all the time in our country?

As part of our response, I invite you to join me this Sunday, June 19, at church from 8:30 – 9:00 am – right before our Adult Forum and Bible Workbench – to pray about Orlando and all that is happening in our nation right now.

And I invite you to join me for the Adult Forum on Sunday, June 26 at 9:00 am. I will lead a conversation about violence, hate, hurt, and hope.

In the meantime please keep praying. I am doing that, too.

 

Rev. Pat Bruns

Rev. Pat Bruns

Rev. Pat Bruns is the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church of Boulder. Email him at patrickrbruns at gmail dot com.

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