Monday, June 20, 2016

This will not Destroy Us....

I confess when I started thinking about today’s sermon I did not know what I was going to write.  Now as I write I do not know which words are to follow.  I am wring from my heart. 
The pain of last Sunday morning is still fresh in me as I am sure it is with many of you. I find it good that today’s reading was about the mad man made sane.  It is an example of how one man’s madness can affect thousands.  I know it’s a stretch but I am keeping it.  Because other than that this has nothing to d0 with today’s reflection.
I am heart broken by what has been done to our community. I have been reassured by many of the proper, comforting responses.  I have been dismayed by the hateful rhetoric it has inspired in some, by the ignorance pronounced by others and the lies still being propagated by a few. I stand, no we stand in opposition of any hate speech because this can and does fuel more hate and that solves nothing.
A young man’s response that I think echoes many emotions this week
Us gays.
We make you look prettier.
We dress you for your important occasions.
We polish up your neighborhoods until we get priced out of them.
We plan and attend your weddings even though you take vows to an entity (that we hear too often though we know better) that hates us.
We are involved in every movie you see.
We are involved in every TV show you watch.
We are involved in every song you listen to - even the homophobic ones.
We teach your children without having to tell you it's us.
We protect your communities without having to tell you it's us.
We nurse you back to health without, without having to tell you it's us.
We clean your gutters, paint your houses and mow your lawns without without having to tell you it's us.
We fix your pipes without without having to tell you it's us, even though you let us know what bathroom we can use.
We govern your citizens - sometimes openly, sometimes only until we're involved in a scandal after years of spewing homophobic rhetoric.
We are on every, single one of the sports teams you root for, but are usually hesitant to say we're there because we don't want shit thrown at us on the playing field.
We are at the root of every cue you take in life - even those of you who wish us dead.
We fight and die on your battlefields without letting you know it's us - and until recently, we weren't even allowed to let you know.
We got rid of DOMA.
We won the right to marry, which was already guaranteed to us, but we just had to work harder than you.
And now, as though we don't have enough on our plate, we will absolutely be the ones to fix up your abhorrent gun laws.
Watch it happen, and marvel.
Because that's what we do.
We clean up your messes.
Without the guarantee of safety and respect in return.
Can you imagine doing ALL of that work without DECENCY as a reward?
So don't tell me I have to view #PulseOrlando as an attack on America instead of an attack on gay people.
Because we're not Americans when you call us faggots, we're not Americans when you legally fire us, we're not Americans when you kill trans people, we're not Americans when you deny us adoption rights, we're not Americans when you say nasty shit to us when we're holding hands on the street (and yeah, we do hear you) we're not Americans when you deny us marriage licenses or a simple wedding cake with our names on it.
In all of those circumstances we're just gay people, and being an American doesn't matter.
So, out of respect for everyone who fought and died before me, I'm going to take a few days to mourn as a gay man before I mourn as an American.
And then after that, you can resume telling me I have to be at war with people I don't know, even though I've been at war with my own countrymen my entire life.
Be happy you're at war with ISIS.
Because you would lose a war against us.
Oh, and you're welcome in advance for the gun thing. Like always.
-Dominic Pupa[1]

This is one person’s anger, justifiable anger, coming to the forefront but in his words there is a plan. He is doing something very creative.  He has decided instead of just being angry he is going to do something about it and fight the gun laws that allow things like this to happen.  That may be your path that may not be .But, he has done several very healthy things here that, I think are easy to see.  He has expressed his need to grieve and how he needs to grieve.  He is not allowing others to tell him how he should feel and he is being proactive in his response.
You see much like todays reading we have been affected by and yes even infected by somebody else’s madness. So how do we deal with that?  We cannot allow it to drive us to our own destruction.

Market street center for Psychotherapy has published 10 steps to help process the massacre written by Kip Williams.  I am going to paraphrase some of what kip says and quote other parts.
Some people have noticed that they should have felt more, that they were surprised by their initial lack of reaction.  Pay attention to your reaction we may be becoming desensitized to violence.  We are overwhelmed by so many stories of shootings, hate crimes and the so on.  Take a moment to  just look back and take note of your first reaction.
Second is that we need to regulate our consumption of news and social media?  It is so easy today to allow ourselves to be traumatized over and over again when they just keep repeating the same story showing the same ugly horrifying images.  Whether the news you are reading is commentary or reporting the facts doesn’t matter it is a fact that the more we watch the higher our anxiety level goes our perspective and clarity become impaired. Turn it off, walk away, step outside and walk around allow your mind and soul to rest.
3 notice how the discourse impacts your sense of belonging and acceptance.
“Many gay men in metropolitan areas have immigrated from other parts of the country or the world. What’s it like for you to be you within your family and your religious, cultural, and national context? Are you out to your family, and have you felt accepted by them? How has your family talked about the shooting, and how does that make you feel? How have people’s reactions affected your feelings about home? How have reactions within the gay community affected your sense of belonging?”[2] One person raised a question in another article where they said their friends have all checked in but not one call from immediate family or relatives…they just don’t get it.
Kip goes on to say that we should explore what death means for you what does loss mean?  Have you lost loved ones?   How did that affect you?  Is it affecting you now has this brought back anything for you?
You should pay attention on how you feel about the gunman?  Is there a judgement about him, his family?  Do we find a need to examine our own prejudices?  Is this just one man or does it translate into a culture, into many, or is your anger focused on just one man?  These are questions you need to explore.
Then check out your gut reactions to the political fallout…this is about gun control, hate crime, terrorism, national security, islamophobia, homophobia, the exclusion of gay men to donate blood, and many more.  What issues do you see that you may want to focus on, give some of your energy too?
You need to pay attention to how you are dealing with this experience overall.  What old wounds are opening for you? Are you feeling extremely connected to this attack or maybe just numb? Are you reaching out to one another or are you isolating yourself?  Either are legitimate responses the point is to pay attention to yourself and your needs and what is happening in you…stay connected to you!
When you can start to focus on what matter s most. 
“While a crisis can cause immense pain and suffering, it can also clarify what’s really important in our lives. What kind of person do you want to be, and who and what matters most in your life? Compassion is often a very good place to start. Remember the victims and their loved ones with loving kindness. Be gentle with yourself and the people you interact with. Notice when you get drawn into problems and conflicts that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and commit your energy to the things that do matter.”[3] Things that matter to you, we are each different and need to find our own way.
Finally Kip recommends don’t shut down; express yourself!  You each come from unique places and times and experiences which creates unique perspectives.  Allow time to write, paint, sing, dance, call a friend, and write a Facebook rant…whatever you need to do to allow what’s inside you to come out.
Finally I would add to kips suggestions by reminding you we cannot live in fear.  Fear is not a way of life and we cannot afford to allow this or any incident makes us cower and shut down.  There is a saying that says the bible uses fear not 365 times one for each day of the year,  it’ not true but it is a lovely thought.  God does say be not afraid, have no fear, fear not and more.  I searched fear not appears 127 times be not afraid 65 times more importantly there are over 333 verses about peace.  Basically God’s wish for us as humans as the creators gift is to be at peace, to live in peace and work towards peace that we may create god’s kindom here on earth.
So my wish in the midst of this turmoil, in this heartache and pain is that we may each find a way to heal.  To love one another, find a way to support one another and keep on loving.  Our love is not dead, but made stronger by this attach against us and our love will prevail.  This was an attack against the gay community but because the gay community is part of, and a strong part of the Christian community this was an attack against Christianity…because gay people are Muslim this was an attack on the Muslim community...because gay people are human this was an attack against humanity.
this progression I just listed is a justified and logical progression of our pain  for many the attack was very personal, it still feels that way and yet as we reflect and we allow the love we have through Christ heal us that pain expands and the need to reach out expands.  As we reach out and extend our love the attacks power is diminished and our power arises to unite as a people of faith, of interfaith, of humanity then through that power we can make this a better place.  Through that power of God’s love that is beyond all our understanding and comprehension, through the power of a God who made each and every one of us in their image we can take this pain, turn it around and do something, do something, do something that will make this a better place.
Do something, write, pledge, dance, hug do something and this world is already a better place for it.  This will not destroy us but only make us stronger.  Amen!

[1] Domic Pupa, US Gays, accessed June 15, 2016,
[2] Kip Williams, 10 steps to help process the Orlando Massacre, June 14, 2016, accessed June 15, 2016,
[3] Ibid.

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