This morning I checked the headlines for the day before work. I flipped around until I found the impetus for this post. The shooting in Charleston has caused the usual debates and discussion to rage around the country. Political and special interest groups grab for meaning and headlines. We start looking at gun control, mental health, racism, hate groups, crime and violence.
One part of this terrorist act makes it stand out. Read the transcripts from the families of the victims and you’ll find it clear as day.
The concept of forgiveness can be viewed through different lenses and it always carries weight. It walks hand in hand with guilt poured on from actions that may or may not be your own. If you are someone who follows Jesus, as the families of the victims, you see forgiveness as the cornerstone.
It anchors your faith.
It erases conditions. It reclaims power for those who stop being victims. It is a release.
Now those who enjoy philosophical debates like to throw around the question of volume. Is there anything unforgivable? Does a mass murder carried out by a racist young white man qualify? How about the massacre of millions of people by political figures throughout history? How about those who killed in the name of their warped view of faith?
This conversation could be a book but I’ll leave off here:
I pray we never have to know a situation similar to the families of the victims. They have all right to forgive, even if some in society question or refuse to understand it. Jesus called for love to break down walls, for faith to move mountains and for sacrifice. These principals cross societal lines, gender, status, orientation, and location.
As humans, we can’t possibly get it right. What those families did by facing down evil and responding with unfathomable grace, that reflected Jesus. That is the anchor of a church founded on a slave rebellion. It is the force that can, and should, bring down the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capital building. It is the force that can bring peace in the wake of violence and change after years of hatred.
The gunshots fired in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church echo well beyond the walls.
We have a choice: Let them fall silent or make sure they are always in our faith, hearts, and minds the next time we face the depth of darkness.