“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
On this day I stand with thousands of Americans in prayer for those whose lives were so brutally taken in Orlando, Florida. It has never been more obvious that sensible gun restrictions are called for and that better attention to mental health and curtailing political extremism is needed. The fact that most of those slain were LGBT people comes as no surprise to me, but being a hate crime makes it all the more insidious. I can chose to respond in anger, and there is plenty of that, or with reason and compassion. For now I feel drawn to inward silence, to try to remember that God speaks most clearly for me through the still small voice within. There is much work to be done in the world to help others respond to that of God within themselves and their neighbor.
This morning I attended a worship session at the local Metropolitan Community Church, where I am now a member. The pastor was visibly shaken by the news and noted that experiencing terrorism is nothing new to LGBT people. MCC has known over 20 acts of violence and desecration in its short history. Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender people continue to be harassed, beaten, and killed. This speaks to our resiliency perhaps that we continue to move forward. Much progress has been made but there is still much work to be done.
During communion our pastor framed his invitation to the Eucharist in the context of remembering those who died in Orlando, connecting with many other churches around the country this morning doing the same. I found myself partaking in the outward ritual, despite my Quaker understanding of silent communion, out of respect for those who have died or have suffered from gun-related violence.
Had there been a Quaker Meeting to go to I might well have gone there to rest the anguish of my mind. For a variety of reasons Friends Meeting on the east side of the Big Island barely functions. In a recent gathering at my home I got the clear sense that there is a desire to meet for unprogrammed worship more often than once every few months. I’ve been giving this much thought and here is what I envision.
I would like to suggest that the time has come to gather in unprogramed worship at least once a month as an independent Worship Group. Being independent would help us to avoid being drawn into the rancor and dysfunction of times past. We should make every effort to remain in fellowship with other Friends on the island, but still speak our truth. Furthermore such a gathering should be publically advertised to the extent that finances will allow. This would let those who may be looking for such a spiritual home know that we exist. Let’s stop hiding our Light under a basket. Lastly such a Worship Group should be in a public location. Given that there is often rain on this side of the island the public gathering place should be indoors. That most likely means renting a facility because it is an imposition to hold worship service on a regular basis in people’s homes. Also, in my experience, newcomers tend to prefer public accommodations.
So, to get things started and to season this concern I propose that Friends on the east side of the island (and others who may be interested) come together at 10:00 AM on Sunday, July 3, 2016 at our home in Keaau for silent worship. Call or email if you need directions. I have at least one place available to us for inexpensive rent. That location and other possibilities can be discussed after worship during a potluck lunch. Come share your vision and let’s see what happens.
Tragedy is part of life, but we can find sustenance in God’s presence. While that can be done alone, it is far more nourishing to do it in community. As we pray for those who died or suffered in Orlando, Florida, let us also pray for Friends on the Big Island that we can find a way forward that serves the needs of all.
Your Friend in Christ, Rick Troth