Reflections on Charlottesville
I wrote a piece earlier this week that was sent to clergy and members of the Anglican Mission in America. Before you read it below, let me explain. Over the past few days there have been tweets, retweets, reaction to tweets, impromptu news conferences, and pundits plenty on all sides. That can all take up a lot of head and emotional space. But, read closely. This is a time for the church to be the church. Most of us know that racism has had a sordid history in our land. Regardless of where you stand in evaluating that issue in our country, we must stand with the church’s gospel of the value and dignity of every human being beginning at conception onwards. We may agree or disagree with people’s opinions and tactics, etc. We are followers of Jesus Christ and have good news to share with all regardless of color, station, beliefs etc. Everyone is created in His image. As a historical note with a Christian witness let me quote the Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“The Church has an unconditional obligation toward the victims of any social order, even when those victims do not belong to the Christian community.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing to German Christians about their Jewish neighbors and the posture that the Church should take towards them in light of the Nazi regime.
Here is what I wrote to AMiA:
Many of us are still reeling from this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville. As you turn on the news, login to social media, and talk in the break room and around the kitchen table, you can hear and see various stages of grief: anger, denial, and depression.
And it is right that we should grieve. In Charlottesville we saw front and center once again the violence of racism, and the lie of Satan that says that a person's value is based on the color of their skin, their heritage, or their station in life. This is antithetical to God's word that tells us that we are all made in the image of God, all known and all loved. Our world is broken by sin and our fellow citizens suffer that brokenness as well – both those who seek power by means of intimidation and violence and those who are on the receiving end of such abuse.
Those who place their primary identity in their race, nationality, or political agenda will ultimately be disappointed. All who place their identity in anything other than God will be disappointed. There is a call for all of us to find our identity in Christ; to know that we are fully known and fully loved; to receive anew Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves; to ask God for the grace and courage to follow His commandments.
As we grieve, I urge you not to despair. In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul tells us "though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." There is hope. Not a rose-colored glasses hope. Not a far-off hope that says one-day things will be made right but offers little solace for today. The hope that God gives us is an anchor for the soul. He is present, He is with us, He is at work in the world.
As you go about your day in your workplace, your neighborhood, and your home, remember that where you go the Kingdom of God goes with you. His is a kingdom characterized by peace and by healing. His is a rule measured by love.
My prayer for All Saints Dallas, Dallas, and beyond is this prayer for social justice from the Book of Common Prayer:
"Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"
Thy Kingdom come, Lord. Amen.