On June 17th, 2020, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America remembers the Emanuel 9 -- 9 members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, who were gunned down during an evening Bible study five years ago. I will admit not knowing any of the victims, yet news of this one hits hard for several reasons. It hits hard because Dylan Roof, the convicted killer went through confirmation at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregation. It hits hard too, because of the longstanding relationship the ELCA has with the African Methodist Episcopal Denomination. It hits hard, too, because at least one person killed had been taking classes at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. And, it hits hard because the lives of these faithful nine were prevented from sharing their God given gifts and abilities with the rest of the world.
Five years ago, I don't think I had words to express what I was feeling. I'm still not sure I have the words to express the emotions feeling this day. What I do know, and maybe you have experienced it too, is a weariness. A weariness that wonders why we STILL haven't learned the simplest, yet hardest lesson in Sunday School; a weariness that wonders why we as humans have to be so dense and stubborn learning this lesson; a weariness that wonders when God is going to get tired of our behavior.
Sadly, I don't have any answers to why we can't accept the reality Jesus loves everybody, or why people would rather hate than love, or when God will call "Time Out!" on us. What I do know is too many people are weary, tired, and hurting.
I know too, we can do better than this. We have to do better than this. We don't have to save the world -- that's already been done for us through Christ. One small step, one small thought or attitude adjustment can and will make a difference.
Feeling a need to do something, I've started an online book discussion on the book "Be The Bridge: Having God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation." We will meet on Thursday evenings at 8:30 p.m. online. If you would like to be part of the discussion, please let us know through the contact form on this website so we can share details and information with you on ways to participate in the discussion.
It's a start, and we have to start somewhere on a path towards repentance, reconciliation, and loving our neighbor. Taking the first step on anything is a challenge, but not impossible with God. Every trip has to have a beginning. It doesn't matter the path we take as long as we get there.
I hope you will join me in this beginning!