My heart continues to break today.
It breaks for the violence unleashed against young African-American men in a nation that still has not yet addressed the reality of racism. It breaks for the deaths of at least five police officers in the city of Dallas. It breaks for the deep grief so many are experiencing. It breaks for our nation enmeshed in a culture of violence. It breaks for the increasing fragmentation that mars our world in so many ways. It breaks for the Church of Jesus Christ that is called to bring about reconciliation, but seems impotent to do so.
But most of all, it breaks because we now are captives of fear. An entire community of people – especially parents – fear their sons will not survive. Police officers fear they will be vilified or killed as they try to protect and serve. We fear that the world is spinning out of control.
So how do we respond as people who embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and seek to live as his disciples?
We can let the heart and mind of Christ shape and mold us in everything we do.
We can pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to embolden us to understand and act in ways we have not yet considered.
We can treat each and every person as someone created in the image of God.
We can refrain from joining in rhetoric that uses words as weapons that rationalize, justify and breed hate, and instead use words to speak out against hate and for hope.
We can engage in deep and difficult conversations in which we seek to understand what people think, how they are feeling and how we respond as Jesus-followers.
We can seek to engage elected, community and spiritual leaders in serious and deep conversations to find a way forward by addressing the root causes of what is occurring.
We can attempt to boldly live out, “The Prayer of St. Francis”:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
What is occurring in our nation and our world is bigger than any of us. There are no easy solutions. But there is something each of us can do. I pray that the United Methodists of Arkansas will lead the way in being a Church that seeks to bring reconciliation.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.