A pastoral letter to the Metropolitan New York Synod.

My Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Grace, mercy, and peace to all of you in the Name of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

There is enough evidence for me to realize that not everyone reacted in the same way I did to the horrid violence and evil we saw in Orlando early last Sunday. I was simply, overwhelmingly stunned. My initial reaction was utter silence. I still lean in that direction.

When chaos surrounds us and terror is profound, I fall back into the words of Psalm 46: “Be still, then, and know that I am God.” At first, on Sunday, I wondered about where God was in the tragedy which could have happened anywhere to anyone. In the listening stillness, we are reminded that “the Lord of hosts is with us.” And the Lord of hosts was with those people slaughtered: people named Juan, Anthony, Brenda, Kimberly, Drew. And the Lord of hosts was with that city, Orlando, just as God was with Sandy Hook, San Bernardino and Aurora. And the Lord of hosts is with us.

Can we gather faithfully and enter into that stillness? Can we come together to pray “in the midst of the city” as the Psalm declares?

I want you to know…you, our LGBTQ+ sisters and brothers, who are hurting from the deep pain…you our Latino/Latina sisters and brothers, who are suffering such loss…you, all of you, I want you to know that the Lord of hosts is with us.

I hope you have read the letter from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. I hope you have read the letter from Bishop Robert Schaefer of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. They speak from the depths to all of us. And I hope that this experience will prompt all of us not only to speak against gun violence but to come together and work to legislate, to at least attempt to prevent this from happening again.

And I hope you will join us on Friday, June 24, 2016, at 6 p.m. for a Prayer Service at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street, in Manhattan. We need to be still, together, and know that God is God. We need to come together to be reminded that the Lord of hosts is with us, even when it seems otherwise. We need to commend one another and our world to this God who is mercy and peace and love.

The Lord of hosts is with us.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Alan Rimbo