Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness
in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil —
hate begetting hate,
wars producing more wars —
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged
into the dark abyss of annihilation.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength To Love, 1963
The racially-charged events that have taken place the past two weeks are dizzying… Alton Sterling and Philando Castile killed during altercations with police officers, followed by a sniper killing five police officers in Dallas, Texas. Then, yesterday, police shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
In the wake of this violence, how do we as Christians respond?
It is right to be angry about the events, but we cannot lash out against others in our anger or fear. There is no one physical enemy we should be pointing to and we certainly shouldn’t be fighting against the innocent. Our tone as Christians must be peaceful instead of adversarial. We need to remember that it is symptomatic of deep human brokenness.
One of the best things that we can do is to come together and pray for peace, remembering the model that Jesus shows us and His work on the cross that has reconciled us together beyond our differences. A gathering at Twelfth Baptist Church last week brought together more than 50 pastors and ministry leaders for a powerful time of prayer. Another Boston Globe article indicated that this was “not an ordinary Sunday.” Additionally, Forest Hills Covenant Church is one of several churches setting aside this Wednesday, July 13, as a day of fasting and prayer. You are invited to join them for a Service of Prayer, Lament and Worship this Wednesday evening at 7pm in Jamaica Plain. Also, Rev. Liz Walker is having a special gathering at Roxbury Presbyterian this Thursday evening on our collective sense of grief and trauma as we struggle for hope. Additionally, I’d encourage you to listen to Rob Surratt’s sermon entitled “It’s Time to Mourn for our Nation” that he shared at River of Life Church last Sunday. Finally, click on this link to hear Pastor Bruce Wall, Pastor Bryan Wilkerson and Pastor Jua Robinson discuss race in America with Boston Praise Radio.
Insights from national leaders on a recent conference call around racial justice emphasize that people need to hold in tension two complex narratives, one related to violence against young black men and the other related to violence against police officers. It is difficult for many people to do this, but an appropriate response requires that both of these narratives be heard and explored. They also recommended that to overcome fear we need to first communicate unto understanding, out of understanding comes respect, and respect trust. When and only when we have established understanding, respect, and trust, can genuine communication occur. Such communication overcomes fear and ignorance.
Pray With Us:
Here at UniteBoston, we are weeping with the events that have taken place this past week and the reality of racial discrimination and injustice within our nation. Please join with us in praying this powerful prayer of lament from a pastor in Kansas City, Brian Zahnd:
Jesus, we sit with you in lament for the land.
We lament the long history of injustice that has been upon this land.
We weep for the Native Americans who were killed and driven from their land.
We weep for the African slaves who were sold and suffered in this land.
We weep for Native Americans who continue to suffer injustice in this land.
We weep for African Americans who continue to suffer injustice in this land.
We weep for the families of black men who have been unjustly killed.
We weep for the families of police officers slain while keeping the peace.
We weep for our children growing up in this violent land.
But while we weep, lament, and repent…
We do not give in to despair.
We look to God, for our hope is in God.
The psalmist said, “The meek shall inherit the land.”
Jesus, you said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”
Lord, teach us to be meek and trusting, not greedy and clutching.
Jesus, you bless those who hunger and thirst for justice.
We have a deep ache in the pit of our belly;
We have a searing thirst deep in our soul—
For this wounded land to see justice and be made whole.
But we don’t know exactly what to do—
So Jesus, we sit with you.
We sit with you to see the deep truth—
That God is love. And…
There is no them, there is only us.
Other good articles:
What shootings and racial justice mean for the Body of Christ – by Russell Moore
After the shootings, Dallas clergy will pray, then advocate for change – by Adelle Banks
Time for white churches to speak out about police shootings – by David Waters