Dear Friends in Christ,
Even while I rejoice in the Day of Pentecost, I am in sorrowful anger at the treatment and death of Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota this week. This kind of accusation and brutal violence against our Black brothers and sisters is not new, but this deathly, repeating, pattern is increasingly visible to the widening community. As this injustice and suffering becomes unavoidably real to all, it brings forth a renewed cry for justice and change.
Communities are responding with all kinds of prayers, vigils, and protests across our nation. In some places they have experienced actors of destruction and riot. No one wants this kind of wreckage, but I believe the angry protest is from those who are long in despair and have not been heard.
Our response as followers of Jesus Christ is clear:
We kneel in prayer with the grief of Mr. Floyd’s family and all those who are victims of brutality. We kneel in prayers of repentance and lament for the healing of the nations: we acknowledge that the sin of racism, both overt and subtle, still stains our common life. We kneel in prayer for all our communities that they may be healthy and whole.
We look to the pattern of Jesus’ own life and commandments. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, but that is so broad that we can easily lose focus on what this calls us to do. We need to expand the circle of how we define ‘neighbor’ and ask ourselves what it means to love every child of God. This work begins in our own hearts. We all have our own work to do related to these surreptitious strands of white privilege, racism, bias, and the violence in our society. I invite you, and join with you, in this work.
This kind of love is far beyond nice feelings, it is the power of redeeming love that was bought for us on the cross by Jesus. It is the incalculable gift given to us for our daily living and feeling, for action and for restraint.
We remember that our vows of baptism describe what we promise to do, and the life we aspire to grow into as intentional disciples of God through Jesus Christ. These are promises we cannot keep on our own but hold onto by the power of the Holy Spirit. We promise that we will “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” We promise to “renounce all sinful desires that draw us from the love of God.” We promise to walk in the path of Love, all with God’s help.
We act out of, and walk within, that redeeming and transforming power of God’s love. Together we wade through deep waters of grief and sorrow but our steps will surely bring us to the dry land of genuine love for one another and the true peace that passes all understanding. And, just as we vow in baptism, we will do all of this not under our own power or even our own inspiration, but by the help of our loving, redeeming, and liberating God.
In Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Bishop Megan M. Traquair