Martin Luther King JR (referring to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings in Atlanta in 1963)
This morning I woke up and after reading more information on new details from the Charleston shootings, my mind started thinking about tomorrow morning...Sunday morning.
You see, the night the shootings happened, when processing such clearly racially motivated hate, with my sister, we both mentioned how this was a modern day move that takes you back to the church bombings during the fight to end segregation. Thus the quote that I used to start. Of course in 2015, the weapon was advanced and deadly destructive, but the motives were alarmingly similar. Just like in the past, this man knew exactly where to go to make his horrible point known. Not into the streets, because with the current situations going on in this country, he might not be heard amidst rioting and looting. He didn't go into the home, where brokenness and confusion seem be louder than unity and commitment. No, he went into the church. Take a minute and let that sink in. It speaks both to the power of the message of God, and to the utter depths of depravity of the shooter. And to be humbly honest, it is really hard to grapple with both of those things, when presented so close together.
Yesterday, the victim's families got time in court to speak to those assembled and a killer. The reports show that many of the messages included forgiveness, repentance, and the power of God to transform a life. That was not the human nature talking, that was the faith, love, hope and Holy Spirit; leading mere mortals to speak and act in a way totally and completely opposite from the way in which their loved ones had been treated. It reminded me again that God calls us to journey with him along a different way, and though you might lose your life, if you are his, you will never lose your "life" (Matthew 16:24-26).
Tomorrow morning is coming though. The first time since the whole country was rocked by vicious and blatant hate (and if you don't see what happened as a hate crime, then we are coming at this from vastly different perspectives) that the faithful will gather to worship God. I am African-American, I am Christian, and I am Southern. So, tomorrow morning I will meet, as is my practice, with my brothers and sisters in Christ. We will sing, and listen, partake of communion, worship, give, and live out the calling of Christ to love deeply. But at the same time, I can't lie and say that I won't cast a brief but suspicious glance around near the doors of the church. I am human, and there is weakness in me, but I know that to not attend tomorrow, or to walk in scared and afraid would give Satan a sense of triumph. Maybe he is thinking even now, maybe I have sounded my message of death and despair so loud, that finally those believers in "the way" will give up, give in, run and hide.
No, this is the time to stand on the "rock" (I Sam 2:2) like never before. To read your Bible, to go to worship, to pray for this wicked, fallen world and the "lost sheep" (Luke 15:1-7) who are in fact being sought by God the Shepard even as I type this. Now is the time to remember that the "harvest is plentiful but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37). In your own path of life, as you walk with Jesus along the road of faith, you are being called to be light, salt, peace, love, hope, forgiveness, calm, joy, gentleness, and most importantly.... strong in the strength of God, the creator and the ultimate judge of the entire world.
Whew! I have been trying to get some of these ideas out for days. I am thankful if you made it all the way through these sincere but rambling kind of thoughts.
I still believe in love, I still hold fast to my faith, I still struggle to live in such times as these.