Yesterday morning we awoke to the sad news of looting and destruction in downtown Raleigh. What began with a peaceful protest on Saturday afternoon turned senselessly violent after dark, and the unrest continues. We are grieved and overwhelmed. Our wounded city needs healing, and we know that as God’s people we must be part of this work. But how?
We are living through a turbulent season in the life of our country. George Floyd’s inexplicable and violent death is only the most recent in a string of awful deaths that have left American society roiling in a sea of anger, defensiveness and political posturing on both sides. Our problems are complex and legion, and they cross social, political, racial and religious lines. This is because evil lurks in every human heart, yours and mine included. The first step toward being part of God’s healing work is to understand this and to repent. We repent of our self-righteousness. We repent of turning a deaf ear to neighbors in need. We repent of our selective indignation and complacency in the face of evil and sin. O Lord, have mercy upon us.
We begin with confession, which reorients us toward God, who sends us back into this broken world as ambassadors bearing a message of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope. Because of what God has done for us and who he has called us to be, we engage our riven world with humility, tenderness, patience and a passion for the redemption of all people.
God’s ambassadors are called to seek understanding, even while others sow division. We are equipped by the Holy Spirit to model grace with integrity. We are given eyes to see the image of God in all people. We dare not shrug at violence or excuse racism. We hold each other to the highest standards. We side with victims of injustice and senseless violence and seek the good of all people.
In the days ahead we will have ample opportunity to be these ambassadors. In conversations around the dinner table, during walks around the neighborhood, as we sweep up broken glass, weep over destruction and seek to understand the anger of others.
Remember, dear friends, that we are Christ’s ambassadors sent into this broken and desperate world with the message of God’s redeeming love. We express this through words, through actions, through silence and through tears. Most of all we express this in the fervency of our prayers. Pray with me in the days ahead. Pray for our local, state and national leaders. Pray for your neighbors. And pray for the Church, that we might bring the love, glory and grace of Christ to his broken and beloved world.
For those who wish to read more, I commend to you our Bishop’s pastoral letter about the death of George Floyd, found here.