"Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" Hard questions, especially right now, but ones we need to hear. Those most affected by the terrorist attack in South Carolina certainly heard them. And we know how they responded to the challenge: with words of forgiveness and mercy towards the man who killed their loved ones. Yes, we should admire such faith. But we must also be on guard against the temptation to water it down into feel-good platitudes or quick-fix solutions. Faith is not meant to be easy or comfortable. The cross attests to as much. Our brothers and sisters at Mother Emanuel have picked up theirs and embarked upon that long, hard road. Will we join them?
And what if we did join them? What might that look like? Might it mean facing up to history we have conveniently ignored? Yes. Or banishing symbols of hatred and oppression from our public spaces? Yes. Or even perhaps the consideration of reparations to those whose lives we have plundered for far too long? Yes. And those are just the easy ones. The hard part comes when we must burrow into our hearts and minds to find those places where we simply refuse to love our neighbors, and then realize that we cannot rip out such cancers nor heal such wounds. The uncomfortable truth of sin is that we are incapable of being the family we are called to be, even as we are obliged to pursue it.
So what do we do? Do we drown ourselves in feel-good platitudes and quick-fix solutions? Or do we wake up and embrace a bold and daring faith? A faith that rebukes injustice and orders misery to be still, while knowing full well that neither will go away. A faith that loves ones enemies, even when they hold a sword to your throat. A faith that claims that, no matter how dire the situation may be, evil will never stand victorious. A faith that trusts our Parent and the strange kingdom they wish us to inherit. Yes, let us give thanks to our Master, for their grace is magnificent and everlasting.