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It has been one year

since the Pulse tragedy shattered our community. A trauma like this can feel like it was just yesterday while almost simultaneously feeling like a million years ago. Earlier this week I drove by the nightclub, still adorned with flowers, wreaths, and messages; visitors still pausing to reflect or pray. These kinds of events aren’t quickly erased from the public conscience. Nor should they be.

In a modern era where public discourse has become increasingly vitriolic as one ideological side contemptuously tries to prove their “rightness” at the expense of the other, it is important to remember that the face of tragedy invites a whole different way of choosing to be present to one another. One of the beautiful outpourings of the ugly event was seeing communities of disparate religious, social, and political belief lay down their dogmas for a moment in order to grieve and heal together. This is not to imply what we believe doesn’t matter in the moment, but rather that we recognize it is our deepest call to being present to one another that doesn’t allow our beliefs to act as a barrier.

These are also the days when the merit of being “Church”, the body of Christ, are tested. It is in moments of personal tragedy and cultural uproar and mass confusion and terror when our radical call to be the hands and feet of Jesus is most apparent. As painful as the last year has been for our city, I am so incredibly proud of our people for stepping up in a myriad of ways to love well those who are hurting. Whether it was bringing water and snacks to blood donation centers, writing notes of encouragement, or praying with those who had more questions than answers, you stepped up to reveal Jesus in places of brokenness. I know we have, somehow, unveiled the Kingdom of heaven in ways that will pay out dividends down the road.

And yet, the work is not over. Our country is still in disarray. There is still so much hate and division that careens from one news headline to the next without giving us time to process and seek the Lord’s perspective. I hope that the Pulse shooting tragedy will be a watershed to our church of realizing what real evil looks like, but also what real hope in Jesus means. May we all continue to heal even as we are called to heal.