Dear Brothers and sister in Christ:
How do we find the words to express the anguish that we as a nation are going through?
At a Selma movie event an African American man stood up and said, “Every time I get into my car, I wonder if will return home or be stopped for a traffic violation and be shot and killed.” An older white man with tears in his eyes said, “I can’t imagine living with that fear every day of your life.”
Earlier this week for two African American men this same fear became a tragic reality. Then last night a peaceful protest rally in Dallas turned violent leaving 12 Police officers shot with five dead. Once again the ugly wounds of racism, fear and hate claimed the national spotlight.
In the midst of these senseless tragedies, where our words often seem small and insignificant, we need to hold onto God’s Word and enter into these experiences of loss and suffering like the psalm writers of old did.
Psalm 130 reads: “out of the depths, I cry unto you oh God, hear my voice…”
Psalm 69 reads: “I am weary of my crying. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause…”
Psalm 23 reads: “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…”
Old Testament Scholar, Walter Brueggemann wrote as a society we have lost the significance of crying out to God and naming the deep wounds in our lives and our world. To lament is to take seriously the pain and brokenness we experience and yet at the same time it means to take even more seriously God’s capacity to enter into such places of suffering and darkness with the light of a crucified and risen Lord.
A month ago at our Assembly, we boldly talked about the reconciling love of God in Jesus Christ that overcomes the hate, hostility and injustice of racism. Presiding Elder Norvel Goff preached about the incredible energy of God’s forgiveness and grace that the nine families of Mother Emanuel released into our world when their shooter was hoping to start a race war. We sang and prayed and repented together and then we shared the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
In these turbulent times, I invite you to keep lifting up in prayer the families of those who were slain this past week. I encourage you to lament with your congregation over the destructive forces of racism, hate and evil and to frequently remind one another that in Christ we are called to be agents of God’s reconciling grace in the world. I also pray that you will listen intently to the good news of how God still so loves a world that he gave his only son, Jesus Christ to save and redeem this very world.
May we ever build bridges of respect, peace, hope and love across all the divisions in our world that seek to separate us from God and from one another.
Bishop Herman Yoos