Dear North Parish members and friends,

Like some of you, it was at Sunday’s service that I learned about the massacre of innocent people in Orlando, Florida. Such devastation is difficult to absorb- whether in an hour, a day, a week or, for those who were there or who knew someone who was killed, a lifetime.

I suspect many of us have been feeling the many and conflicting emotions of intense grief, worry, anger, fear, defiance and pride in the days since- as well as the need to either retreat or to be with others. All over the country, all over Massachusetts, people are gathering and holding vigils. The North Andover Interfaith Prayer Vigil will take place at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Main Street in North Andover on Thursday night at 7:30. I will be there; all are welcome. Other area vigils are listed below.

For this Sunday, the Worship Committee was already planning a service in celebration of the first anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in favor of equal rights and equal marriage. The plans for that service are going ahead, and we thank those who will speak, the Choir, and all who are bringing wedding photos to celebrate that “love is love is love”. Please invite your friends to this service of affirmation and hope.

In my opinion, our nation continues to allow a lethal mix of hate and legal ownership of assault weapons to go unchecked. Last year at this time, we were hosting a vigil for the nine people gunned down at Emmanuel AME Church; this year it is 49 gunned down and 53 more wounded at the Pulse night club. I thank those of you who have been involved this past year in efforts to reduce gun violence, have supported the McVagly Youth Group, or have helped to support and coach other faith communities in becoming truly GBLTQ welcoming through the Merrimack Valley Welcoming Faiths Coalition. It is clear that- after the grieving, after the reassertion of pride and defiance and love- there is still so much work to do.

This is one of the reasons why we gather in religious community- to mourn, to resist, to love and to speak our truth out loud in the face of hate and evil. I am reminded of the words in our hymnal by Reinhold Niebuhr: “Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime… Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.”

Let us gather- in mourning, and yes, on Sunday, also in defiance and celebration.
In faith,
Rev. Lee

VIGILS
Tuesday (tonight): Haverhill: 5 pm, prayer and silence at UU Haverhill; 6 pm vigil at Haverhill City Hall
Wednesday: Andover, 6 pm, West Parish Church
Thursday: Salem, 6 pm, at Museum Place Fountain
Lowell, 8 pm, Christ Church United, candlelight vigil, 180 East Merrimack St.
North Andover, 7:30 pm, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 390 Main Street

See also: Freedom MA webpage devoted to adding all the MA vigils: http://www.freedommassachusetts.org/Vigils/

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