While many people have said what I’m about to say – I will say it again – there just aren’t words for what happened in #Orlando. There just isn’t a way to talk about it in a way that honors the depth and breadth of pain and sorrow that is encompassed by this tragedy.
And so, I will lean into tradition, with something many people dismiss off hand as simplistic or trite, but I call us to:
Defiantly Love Your Neighbor
All the neighbors. The nice ones and the despicable ones. The peaceful ones and the gun toting ones. The Christian ones and the Muslim ones. The White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic ones. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual neighbors. All the neighbors.
To love our neighbors, we have to know our neighbors. To know our neighbors, sometimes we have to step outside of our boxes, our schedules, our simple lives, and our safety, to let in someone that is different than us.
I have received that grace. To be included where I don’t belong. I worship in a LGBTQIA+ congregation. And in many ways I am the intruder. The stranger. The one out of place.
But they have never treated me as less than a friend and neighbor. In a world where they have much to be afraid of, they have never treated me with fear. And now I better understand what that really means.
On Sunday I saw the outflow of the attack in #Orlando. I saw the pain. The fear. The utter exhaustion. I saw people I care about hurting. And mourning. And emotionally done.
And in the face of that, they defiantly chose another reality. They chose to come and worship. They chose to pray. They chose to dance.
So today, will you choose to defiantly love your neighbor? Reach out. Show up. Represent. Stand up. Invite them to dinner. Love them.
There are no guarantees that you will be loved back. You will probably lose some friends that think you’re too liberal, or not choosy enough, or acting dangerously. But that doesn’t change the command to love. To love your neighbor as yourself.
There aren’t caveats or P.S.’s. There aren’t footnotes or but-for arguments. We are called to love our neighbor. To show Christ’s love to the world. And to bring light into the very darkness that surrounds the most vulnerable among us.
Defiantly, Love Your Neighbor.