A response and letter to my elected officials regarding the shooting in Orlando, FL
June 14, 2016, 12:00 AM

I post this letter knowing that there are those within my congregation who think differently. The following letter is my own and it's content doesn't necessarily reflect that of The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer...

This letter was addressed to the following elected officials...

Senior Senator Lindsay Graham
Junior Senator Tim Scott

US Representative Mick Mulvaney

State Senator Ronnie Cromer
State Representative Walt McLeod

My name is Rev. Matthew Benjamin Titus. I am the pastor at The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Newberry, SC. You have been elected in my area to represent me and all my fellow neighbors. I hope and plead that you take the time to read this letter in its entirety.

On Sunday morning, before I headed to begin the work that I feel I have been called – proclaiming God’s word and love – to the people that I serve in Newberry, I briefly saw a report of yet another shooting in our country. This time it was in Orlando, FL. At that moment, not much was known since the news was so fresh.

I went to worship.

Within our readings, (hopefully) in my words, in our liturgy, and in the meal we heard about God’s love and forgiveness. How God has come to be with us and has forgiven us so that we can live the life that we have been created for. A life to serve others, love fully, and proclaim thankfulness for what God has already done.

Throughout that morning, word began to spread about the violence that had taken place in Orlando. The violence that transpired within a place of refuge, sanctuary, fellowship, and fun for so many who are shunned and turned away. The more I heard, the more my heart began to break. To break for those who had been directly affected by one individual’s rage and hate. To break for the faith in which I believe and proclaim that speaks of God’s love and presence with us all – no matter who you are.

My heart began to break even further because even with this, I don’t feel that those in your position will rise to the occasion to do what is right, just, and decent for those who elect you and others to represent the people. Again, we hear that an individual was able to easily obtain a tool used to cause so much damage and hate. This individual had already piqued the interest of law enforcement agencies in the past; yet that did not slow down or stop his ability to purchase weapons of utter destruction. 

As a pastor I get to tell people about God’s love for them – all of them. I get to share with everyone about God’s grace that is freely given to the world so that we might live into the life that God has created and intended us for. In our Gospel reading from this Sunday (June 12, 2016) we heard the story of Jesus being welcomed into the house of a Pharisee named Simon. During that meal, a woman enters and begins to lavish Jesus with her tears, hair and ointment as she bathes his feet. The Pharisee is incredibly put-off by Jesus’ reaction to this woman.

Yet, Jesus asks Simon to look at her. To look past her sins (whatever they might have been for they aren’t stated in any way), past her station, past the mere fact that she is a woman and to see her. To see her just as he does; just as God does. To see her and know that she too is a loved and forgiven child of God.

Your honor – I ask you to please see them. See those who have been hurt so deeply and permanently by this act of hate and terror in Orlando. Not only to see them, but to also see the victims and families of those in San Bernardino, Charleston, Washington, D.C., Newtown, Aurora, Binghamton, Fort Hood, Blacksburg, and more. To see them and to act.

To lift prayers yes, but to act through those prayers and begin the steps to enact common sense regulations in this country in regards to guns and weapons, mental health, and national security. To stand firmly with those who hurt and cry out and declare boldly on their behalf – “We hear you and see you.”

I recently heard a wonderful sermon by Rev. Norvel Goff, the Presiding Elder at Mother Emmanuel AME, Charleston, SC, at the ELCA South Carolina Synod Assembly in Columbia, SC. In that sermon he said something that will always stick with me forever, and it is something that I hope you can hear and live into as well.

If the church can’t stand up for what is right, have mercy on us.

Please stand up. Please hear. Please see them. Amen.

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