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Bishop Park on the Orlando shootings: How Long?

. 3 min read
June 13, 2016
“How long must I
wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will
my enemy triumph over me?…
But I trust in your
unfailing love.”
(Psalm 13:2, 5a)
Dear
United Methodists of Susquehanna Conference,
It
was only a few days ago that we met as an Annual Conference for a time of holy
conferencing only to return to once again hear about a mass shooting. During
the Friday morning session of the conference we had a time of a prayer; “O
God, we lift up those places and conditions within our communities, our nation
and around the world for which we have great concern. There are so many people
who are in harm’s way. Every day, O God, we are confronted by senseless acts of
violence… So hear our prayers for those places, people, and situations for
which we are especially grieving…” Less than 24 hours after we offered
the prayer, another horrific act of violence, terror and hatred erupted in
Orlando, Florida. Now Orlando joins that long list of places identified by a
mass shooting – Newtown, Fort Hood, Aurora, Binghamton, Virginia Tech, and the
list goes on and on. This time it is the largest mass shooting ever in our
country.
In
solidarity with the families and loved ones of the victims, our hearts go out
to them with prayers for comfort and strength in their unimaginable pain and
suffering. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers in these national and
global days of mourning.
It
is hard for any of us to fathom how anyone could find such an act of terror
acceptable and tolerable. We are left wondering and questioning how such
violence continues. In this newest instance the motivation appears to be one of
radical Islam along with a deeply rooted hatred directed towards the LGBT
community. No matter what a person’s opinion and belief is in regards to
homosexuality, there is certainly no place for such an act of terror and
hatred. This act against the gay community is an act against all of us. There
is no room for prejudice and intolerance of this nature. All those involved are
beloved children of God, created in God’s image. We mourn with those who have
lost loved ones. And we weep with those whose lives will never be the same.

I
have shared previously that in the aftermath of massive killings we need to be
ever vigilant to guard against a condemnation of an entire religion because of
the acts of a few individuals and those who falsely claim that they represent
the faith. I would remind us of that again or otherwise the spiral of hatred
that Jesus spoke of and stood against will continue. Jesus called out for the
best within us to learn to love all humanity and to be agents of peace and love
to the world.
I
would encourage the people of the Susquehanna Conference to do what you can in
regards to witnessing to people and our communities what it means to learn to
live in peace, justice, and harmony with one another. Speak out against
intolerance, discrimination, and hatred. Show that acts of violence and terror
are never acceptable. Stand in unity with the oppressed of this world. As
people of faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, demonstrate in all that
you do what it means to be disciples of love and citizens of the Kingdom of
God.
Once
again we are living in a time when the good news of Jesus Christ is needed more
than ever.  When the devil raises its hideous head we wrestle with the
question, “How long?”  But we put our trust in the unfailing
love of God as we follow the Prince of Peace, serve the Healer of our
brokenness, and proclaim the Hope of the world. Love wins. Light prevails over
darkness. God reigns. We are to embody that good news in all that we say and
do. I know that you will because you have demonstrated that in the past. Let us
continue to do so even with more resolution, determination, commitment and courage
for such a time as this.
I
would like to ask God’s people of the Susquehanna Conference to surround Bishop
Ken Carter and the Florida Annual Conference with our prayers as they start
their conference session this Thursday in Orlando, to be in witness on behalf
of Jesus Christ to the hurting community and the broken world.
In
Christ,

Jeremiah
J. Park