Praying for Orlando Isn't Enough

Praying for Orlando Isn't Enough

By Ed Sciulli

We are getting too good at this. We have had way too much practice.

Our national post-tragedy response routine.

We collectively cry out at the shock and horror. Then we struggle to express our sympathy and solidarity with the victims and their families. So we change our Facebook profile pictures and start a hashtag.


It isn’t enough. Not this time. Why this time, as opposed to any other of the national tragedies? Because this is now, and we must do better. As a nation, we must do better. As a church we must do better.

This isn’t about the efficacy of prayer. As Christians, we indeed have a duty to hit our knees (or whatever prayer posture you assume) and petition the Lord to intervene, to comfort those destroyed by the senseless violence, to make us whole again. And prayer is powerful.

But it isn’t enough.

As both a nation and a church, we have to do more. Our action cannot simply be limited to private or even corporate conversations with God. We have to act. We have to engage.

How we engage as a country is a topic for another day, another discussion. How we as a church should respond - it’s tricky because of the many factors involved but we can always, always, do what we are called to do best - be the light in the dark places.

Pastor Eddie Kaufholz had this to say in a piece from the Orlando Sentinel:

“So church, throw open your doors! Mourn with those who mourn — without even the slightest hint of agenda. Offer your funeral services, for free, for every single person killed in this attack. Start cooking, and bring food to the hospital — now. Load everyone in the church van and donate blood. In short, do what it is you do best — be the hands and feet of Jesus.

And pastors, stand up in your pulpit and declare from the depths of your soul that nothing like this can ever happen again. There is no justification in Jesus' words for such tragedy, and there is no justification for the church to be anything other than the most loving, warm, and welcoming place in all of Orlando.”

Now is the time for our church and every church to do our job. We have to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We have to throw open the doors of our churches and our homes and make them safe places for all people. All people. We have to fight injustice and hate, and join with others doing the same, even if they don’t believe the exact same way we do. We have to mourn, truly mourn, those who were lost and those who were left behind. We need to be seen serving our communities without pretense or agenda. We have to engage in responsible political discourse and do our diligence as citizens. This is our call. The world is watching, and we need to offer more than hashtag. When we don’t, we fail. Author Steven Pressfield puts it like this:

“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along in its path back to God.”

We have been called to here to be the hands and feet, to be the light, to be Jesus as best we can until He comes back. We have been called to do it now.

Here is your charge, once again from Pastor Eddie Kaufholz: “For the love of Christ, Church, now is the time for you to do your job. Be who Jesus hoped you'd be.”

7 comments (Add your own)

1 Bob Shockley - Wed, June 15, 2016 @ 2:19 PM

Well said, Ed!
2 Tom Bender - Wed, June 15, 2016 @ 6:36 PM

I like how you kept it simple and straightforward: "How we as church should respond - it’s tricky because of the many factors involved but we can always, always, do what we are called to do best - be the light in the dark places."
3 Marcie Giovengo - Wed, June 15, 2016 @ 8:30 PM

Thanks for sharing Ed. Eloquently put.
4 Doug Taylor - Thu, June 16, 2016 @ 7:43 AM

Now what will we do as a church within the Church? What will I see different in the foyer or bulletin that will expose me to the opportunity to support and reach out appropriately? Do we have the compassity to at least point people in a godly direction to act? This was a great post and ecouraging one to move and be motivated, lets not stop there.
5 Patty Renzie - Thu, June 16, 2016 @ 8:57 AM

Ed, This was spot on! "Be the hands and feet of Jesus" "Be the light in dark places" You made it clear how the churches can pull together to help these families in Orlando As I try to wrap my arms around the hurt, loss and pain these families are going through I ask is prayer all I have to offer? ( Of course I know the power of prayer) can I do more???????????
6 Mike Davis - Fri, June 17, 2016 @ 9:03 AM

We often want to do something special when we feel so helpless at times like these. It is not about doing something "special" but living our lives every day realizing the incredible and amazing calling to live holy and righteous lives, demonstrating and speaking the gospel to our family, coworkers, friends and neighbors. Did someone love this shooter / man enough to share Christ with him; we will never know. Am I (I am the Church) doing those special things daily that Jesus has called me to? Loving God and loving my neighbor as myself? Prevent the next shooter in your neighborhood. Share Christ with your neighbor. Lord, thank you for enabling us to love like you have called us to.
7 ed - Sat, June 18, 2016 @ 11:49 AM

Thanks for commenting everyone! I echo Mike's sentiment in how we as "a church within the Church" can respond. It begins with us as individuals and can spread from there into our small groups/communities. This doesn't mean we can't do something on a more corporate level, but it starts and ultimately ends with us. I suggest we start by looking at the following: 1. Cultivate Empathy - (buzzword warning) We need to shift our thinking from seeing those around us as "others" and begin thinking in terms of "us", as in partners, neighbors and family. As we grow more polarized as a nation ideologically, it is good for us to remember that we have much in common and that all of us were created to be image bearers. As we begin to shift our thinking to a more inclusive mindset (as in we are all human, not merely statistics, or separated by categories and labels) we can work together to create safer and healthier communities. 2. Neighboring - As individuals/families, we need be involved in the lives of our neighbors. Do you know their names? Their kids? Where they work? etc. Are we gathering regularly, opening our homes to those in our immediate vicinity? (BTW - this is the hardest for me as an introvert, if there is any finger pointing here its going straight at myself) This includes sharing the gospel, but also your ladder or space at your table. Certainly many factors may inhibit this, (our busyness, but being intentional in this regard may be the biggest step we can take as individuals and have the deepest impact on those around us. 3. Eliminate Rhetoric - As the conversations rise surrounding the many facets of a situation like this (guns, Islam, the LBGTQ community), it simply doesn't help to repeat the talking points and reductionist memes of the opposing sides. Rhetoric is empty and only serves to reinforce the distinctions that categorize and divide us. Rhetoric shuts down conversations that lead to solutions. Instead of participating in a talking points battle, let's converse as we break bread together. You may not change the mind someone who feels differently from you, but at the very least, we eat. And that's a good thing.

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