A prayer for our community in this time of sorrow

Rev. Dr. Frederick F. Ritsch, III is the senior pastor at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, TX. Photo provided.

by Rev. Dr. Frederick Ritsch, III
Special to The Gayly

NOTE: As we are aware that many readers of The Gayly do not participate in prayer nor religious practices, please consider that this is oriented towards both those who do and those who do not believe in Christian teachings. This is a time for togetherness, so together we will stand.

In the wake of the nightmare of the worst shooting incident in US history: Lord, hear our prayer:

For the victims and families of the horrific shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, grant comfort to the grieving, healing to the injured, and resurrection to the dead.

For a community torn by fear and despair, grant hope to Orlando and to Orlando's LGBTQ community, and grant them the courage that comes with hope: the courage to live abundantly, even in the face of fear and death; the courage to hold one another rather than hiding away in isolation; the courage to reach out rather than to withdraw; the courage to love rather than to hate.

For communities that, despite progress, too often find themselves at risk, the LGBTQ and the Muslim communities: grant that a bridge can be built that overcomes alienation, not only from one another, but from the world around them, which too often views both groups with hatred and suspicion.

Grant that peace, reconciliation, understanding and trust be the foundations upon which our communities and nation are built, and that human tendencies to suspicion and distrust be replaced by love of neighbor and stranger...Grant that we may fulfill Dr. King's dream of being a Beloved Community.

For a culture of violence, in which guns and hateful speech take away the lives of innocents and the innocence of life, grant that as a nation, as communities, and as individuals, we may actively work toward solutions that sideline violence and offensive behavior in favor of constructive dialogue and peaceful resolutions; and that we no longer teach, through media and through our words and actions, that violence is a proper response to life's troubles.

For police officers, EMS workers, first responders, and local and national leaders: Lord, we give you thanks for dedicated civil servants who put their own lives at risk for the sake of others; and for dedicated community leaders and elected officials who seek to solve problems and build community. Give them wisdom and guidance to make decisions which further the peace in their communities and make them places of welcome and possibility for all who live there.

We pray that the name of the Lord be used only for those values for which He lived, died, and rose again: Loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us; peacemaking, justice and righteousness; loving our neighbors as ourselves; healing and wholeness to a broken world; welcoming the needy and the marginalized and always giving priority to those Jesus called "the least of these."

May we, by your grace, truly preach and live GOOD news.

Rev. Ritsch is the senior pastor at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, TX. They are an “intentionally inclusive community of believers.” In the wake of the legalization of gay marriage, Ritsch celebrated by offering half-off gay and straight weddings for a limited time.

The Gayly – June 30, 2016 @ 12:35 p.m.