Tender Mercies: Church under Attack

Emanuel AME, Charleston, SC Responding with words in our grief, while the fresh and raw moments of tragedy continue to sink in our souls, feels incomplete and often inappropriate. And yet, we want to connect with solidarity and meaning and so we say something.

  • You are in our thoughts and prayers. 
  • I will be praying for you. 
  • I am so sorry. 
  • Bless your heart. 

It might be more helpful to stand and sit in the silence of the moment and simply be present with those who suffer.

I might be more helpful to groan, wail or weep  along with those who have loss.

I might be more authentic to seek God’s comfort and presence than to politicize, blame and explain away the moments of hurt, confusion and fear.

I can imagine the loss and tragedy, as I have seen people die, saw people being shot, seen churches ablaze and families and neighbors explode in rage over acts of community violence. But no matter my experience, I cannot capture evil and sum it up to be wiped away nor explained in a soundbite.

It strikes me as a clear call to be the church, when evil invades the sanctuary of peace that he church must rise up in faith and witness in response. Instead we squabble over a half million dollar account to keep the memory of a church while the church, the body of Christ, is under attack. The attack is in South Carolina, Egypt, in Washington DC and even from within.

The answer is not within the scope of political power. No gun laws, no sensitivity training, nor heritage assimilation can do what God could do through the church.

The invasion and violation of the murders at Emanuel AME call for the church to cross all boundaries and limits to reclaim the presence of Christ for the transformation of the world.

Beyond the politics, racism and violence is a spiritual depravity that proves to the world and the church that we are not keeping our own rules: do no harm, do all the good you can, practice growing your spirit.

Yes! Pray for the people of Charleston and everywhere evil seeks to kill, destroy and divide.

Yes! Boldly be the church of Christ in deed and word. Seek Christ to send us and let go what waters us down. We are the Good Soil, We are the Best wine. We are those who make peace and not create the pieces.

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