In the wake of the Orlando shooting last week, we spoke the following vows as a congregation in church this weekend. At times I was so overwhelmed by the words and sentiments, that I had to read silently, rather than aloud. But, most of all, I was filled with hope and empowered by all of the love that surrounded me.
"To the acts of violence that murder bodies and the systems of oppression that strangle communities—we say, "No!" Because of God's greater "Yes!" to just societies that promote the flourishing of all creatures.
To the ideologies of extremism that privilege some while disenfranchising others—we say "No!" Because of God's greater "Yes!" to the celebration of LGBTQ lives of all races, faith, tongues, and expressions.
To the prejudice that divides and separates individual persons from self, others, and God—we say. No!" Because of God's greater "Yes!" to the blessing of all people as Imago Dei and of all creation as one body.
To the fear of differences of gender, sexuality, race, religion, ability, language, or culture—we say, "No!" Because of God's greater "Yes!" to the beauty, goodness, and strength of all humanity.
"No!" to the blood pouring out of every gun hole and wound. "Yes!" to the grief, anger, and lament for every sacred life lost.
"No!" to the slurs and the assertion of power. "Yes!" to every rainbow raised in solidarity and every hand held in love.
"No!" to the anti-LGBTQ hate, racial hate, religious hate. "Yes!" to the gift of difference and to unity in our diversity.
"No!" to the violence that invades the sanctuary of church and dance floor. "Yes!" to the creation of places of belonging and family.
"No!" to hiding in fear of being attacked and rejected. "Yes!" to dancing and expressing love. "Yes!" to faith that is compassionate. "Yes!" to justice that is immediate. "Yes!" to peace that is brave. "Yes!" to Orlando. "Yes!" to Pulse. "Yes!" to being yourself. "Yes!" to being alive. "Yes!" to us, to we, to together, to now."