Good day Trinity Church friends,
My heart is heavy as I write this.
The news of the horrific murders in a Charleston church last night brings me almost to tears.
Preliminary reports reveal that a 21-year-old man entered a prayer meeting at Emanuel African Episcopal Church, joined in prayer with several African American Christians, including the pastor, and then stood up and made an announcement. He stated he was there to shoot black people. He then murdered nine of them, apparently leaving one unharmed in order that she might tell others what had happened.
Understandably many are outraged that such an event could happen in a church.
Yet our outrage must be far broader than that.
I hope you join me in the outrage that in this day and country, there still exists such hatred of others that they are killed just because they were born with darker skin.
I hope you are outraged that some young people are still being taught such racism and hatred, by both individuals and systems.
I hope you are outraged that we as a people still have not learned to live together in peaceful community together.
Please be sure to know these truths.
Hatred is learned. We are not born with hatred.
Hatred emerges from fear and is fueled by ignorance and intolerance.
Hatred takes early root in stereotyping, bias and prejudice.
And left unchecked, it can grow into today's headline.
So what can we do? Just shake our heads in disbelief? Just pray for grieving family and friends?
No...for while I do ask you to pray for them, we can do so much more.
For while I cannot change the whole world and neither can you, I can change MY world...and you can change YOUR world.
Look deeply in the mirror of your soul my friends.
Take candid inventory and identify if there is prejudice or even hatred in YOU.
Be honest with yourself and admit where YOU have bias against others who are different.
Confess to yourself and God if you stereotype or categorize people because of race, nationality, language, gender or any reason.
And then remember that there is something far more powerful than hatred, and that is what Jesus came to show us.
It is LOVE.
Amazingly, my strong hunch is that the Christian family and friends of the murdered people are praying for the killer...and calling for peace and not revenge...for love and not hatred in return.
Nelson Mandela was unjustly put in prison for 27 years because of the color of his skin, and because he stood up for the rights of his countrymen of color.
When he emerged he did not begin a campaign of revenge and hatred. Rather he affirmed that God calls us to fight hatred with something far stronger.
"NO ONE IS BORN HATING ANOTHER PERSON BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN, OR HIS BACKGROUND OR HIS RELIGION. PEOPLE LEARN TO HATE, AND IF THEY CAN LEARN TO HATE THEY CAN BE TAUGHT TO LOVE...
FOR LOVE COMES MORE NATURALLY TO THE HUMAN HEART."
Edmund Burke's quote is well known because it is so true.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women
to do nothing."
So, my GOOD friends...do something. Begin defeating hatred by rooting any hint or indication of it from your own heart. Then actively reach out in love to those who are different than you.
And then, teach others to do the same