Hope for Charleston

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Author: Chara Donahue

As I write today, I am very aware of where I sit. My world is still moving, Father's Day just wrapped up, and the sun is shining brightly in the Pacific Northwest.  I am quite conscious of the fact that as I lounge comfortably here, a week ago darkness violently spread itself upon the steps of a holy place.

As I breathe in the quiet warmth of a summer's day I can't help but ask why the most sincere and loudest cries for justice ring from silent pulpits and the bodies of the slain.  My soul is burdened and my heart repeats,

"Jesus please come.
Come to the children for which Father's Day only illuminated that theirs was stolen by hate.
Come to the communities that are mourning and fearful because their safe spaces have been wrought asunder by a soul submitted to evil.
Come to those in our country who naively thought that we were past racial oppression because we have a black president.
Come to the global church as we grieve with our brothers and sisters at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. They have been stripped of their pastor, and are left to be haunted by the prophetic times he preached that engaging in the fight for justice might cost you your life[1]. May they be comforted, because they know he is with you.
Jesus come, because I know you are the perfect reconciler, but at this moment — reconciliation seems so far."

This is my prayer. My eyes, set in white skin, have wept for my black brothers and sisters, and I know I cannot see the furthest depths of this problem.  I know that this is not about the assailant, or rationalizing whatever led him to dehumanize living, breathing people who offered prayers with their last breaths.  I  rejoice in his apprehension, but that is only a trickle of the river of justice that needs to come.  As I view the pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King sitting at Emmanuel AME years ago contrasted with the pictures of the same church surrounded by police cars and coroners, I am paralyzed with grief for the history of oppression, degradation, and injustice. It is a history that says, "we have come so far, but we must go further still."

Photo WPEC CBS 12

The King Center posted this image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston

So I ask, what does 'further still' look like — in my life, in this culture?

It's more than taking down confederate flags. That is a start, but we must acknowledge that when our young pretend to be dead so that they may have life, we, yes we collectively, all people, have a problem. People may continue to rationalize and defend the incidents that have been making their ways into the headlines lately, but this blatant act of hostility demands our voice, our attention, and our lament. Let the voices that say there is no problem be drowned out by those of all races saying, "We want unity and are willing to sacrifice to see it. We will stand in solidarity so that the beauty of action can usher in harmonious calls for justice. We must extend past paltry sentimentality, and actually take steps to make peace, walking out the ministry of reconciliation that God asks of believers in 2 Corinthians 5:18."

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Growing up in the Bay Area of California, my group of friends included a delightful array of Indian, Pakistani, African American, Caucasian and Latino women. That's just the way life was, I never realized how precious a gift I was given.  Then I moved to my current city that is predominantly white, and it just felt awkward, and bizarre. I have met great people here, but there is a part of me that can tell something rich is missing, that longs for my community to be multi-ethnic. Not because it is the hot topic right now, not even because it is simply the right thing, but because it's Christ's thing. I want the things of Jesus, and I am willing to fight for them. He has reconciled the Jew and the Gentile, the Asian and Latino, the Black and the White. I want to help bear the weight of the struggles and share in the joys of all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to invite others into the family who's genetic markers are things like forgiveness, mercy, and sacrificial love. Part of this is a desire to see Heaven come to Earth, and I know heaven will not be rocking a white majority. Too rarely do we get  glimpses of this eternal reality, but when all races gather to worship together — desegregated, with love, and without hindrance — we get a taste of the sweetness to come.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Revelations 7:9

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP35_JVnP6g#action=share at 10:18

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your perspective on the Charleston shootings. I appreciate your prayer, too. How wonderful to read the verse from Revelation! Come, Lord Jesus, into our hearts. Help us to carry out the ministry of reconciliation.


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