Prayers for Orlando
A letter from Bishop Benfield, June 15, 2016
From its earliest days, the church has said that Christians look at the four ancient virtues of wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance through the lens of love, faith, and hope. We hold on to these values because our hope is for the perfect love of God, which in the Christian tradition will include the reconciliation of humans to one another through Christ.
This truth is especially important to remember in light of the murders in Orlando. The death of so many people, apparently targeted because they were in a gay nightclub, speaks volumes about sin. Our society continues to accept rank prejudice as acceptable. We value ignorance, injustice, cowardice, and intemperate behavior. Merely look at the ongoing political debates as evidence of this reality.
What I hope the church will do is stand in the marketplace, so to speak, and continue to tell our story that the love of God—and our desire for a loving world—impels us to have the courage to preach the value of temperate and wise responses to evil, and to work for justice so that all people are treated equally. That is how we conquer evil, not through revenge. It is the gift that we have to offer a world that needs more than ever to hear the good news that Christians have to offer. We will present the crucified and risen Christ as the example that the goal of life is not destruction, but resurrection to something better.
I am praying for the day when no more events such as the Orlando attack will ever take place. For that day to arrive, those prayers must lead to actions we take that will change society in order that vengeance—or even the desire for vengeance—will become a useless relic of the past.
Bishop Larry Benfield is the 13th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas.
Photograph of police officers directing family members away from a multiple shooting at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by Phelan M. Ebenhack, June 12, 2016 (AP). http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/deadly-mass-shooting-orlando…