As though all the violence in the world wasn’t enough, this week has brought sadness from losses by natural death. Rev. Mike Piazza, who came to consult with our church two years ago, has lost his beloved husband Bill to a fast-moving cancer. They were together for 35 years. Today we also learned of the death of Rev. John Deckenback, a longtime UCC Conference minister and advocate for the poor. John died suddenly at his desk at the end of an ordinary workday. Although I only knew him slightly, the pain of his sudden passing is evident in the tributes posted by those whom he mentored.
We just never know. Life is short, and unpredictable. This spate of violence only amplifies the reality that death is all around us.
And so the moment that I shared yesterday was even more precious. It was pouring rain. The Orlando Gay Chorus was singing at a blood drive in a hotel lobby; one of the 20+ outreach events that the Chorus has done since the PULSE shooting. We were a small subset of the whole group, filling in parts and singing to tracks for a very small audience. A dozen of us, and half that number listening. One of the things that makes me most proud of OGC is the commitment to sing well no matter what the circumstances. But it was all a little tentative until the housekeeping staff came down at the end of their shift. They must have been tired; hotel housekeeping is hard work. And many of them were facing a fight in the traffic or a long bus ride home in the rain. But they stayed around, doubling the audience.
We sang. They beamed. They danced. They gave us energy. And suddenly, we weren’t just singing; we were making music together. We were Family.
For a little while, we were all joined in a moment of pure joy. The hate that created the need for a blood drive was transformed into extravagant love. The fear and anxiety that haunt victims of this horrible shooting was pushed away for a little while. Those Holy Spirit moments are what give us the strength to do the hard work that is ahead. We should treasure them, and look for them, and get out of the way to let them happen.
May you find a moment of joy this week that convinces you that LOVE>HATE.