Monday, June 22, 2015

Remarks at a Prayer Vigil for the Charleston Shooting

These are the remarks I shared earlier today at St. Mark AME Church here in Duluth at a community prayer vigil.  I was honored to share the podium with other clergy: Rev Michael Gonzales (St. Mark AME), Rev. Kathy Nelson (Peace UCC), Rabbi David Steinberg (Temple Israel), as well as with others from the community.
I am pleased and honored to be here today at St. Mark.  Thank you, Pastor Gonzales, for welcoming us.  I have had the privilege of preaching and speaking from this pulpit before, and those were always joyous occasions. Today when my heart is heavy, and all our hearts are heavy, it is important to be here again.  Part of the poignancy of being here is that our churches, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church share some history, but it is filled with sadness.  We both have Methodist in our name, but the AME was created in 1816 because the larger Methodist tradition did not treat African-Americans well.
In Genesis 9, God’s covenant with humanity is symbolized by a rainbow.  A rainbow – not monochrome but Kodachrome, brilliantly colored.  It is our task as human persons to weave a beautiful tapestry, a multi-colored tapestry in the human community.  It is an on-going task.
Last Wednesday night at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC the fabric of our tapestry, of our community was violently ripped apart.  It was torn by hatred and violence – lethal hatred, weaponized violence.
We are here together to feel – to feel the tear in the fabric of our community, to feel grief, to feel sorrow.
I also hope that over time we will let sorrow do its work, let it seep deeply into our hearts and our souls to create tenderness and gentleness, a tenderness and gentleness that lead to action.
In tenderness and gentleness, let us find a way beyond racial hatred. The rainbow needs every hue, every cultural stitch.
In tenderness and gentleness, let us find a way to untie the knot between hatred and gun violence.  The struggle against hatred is a long, long struggle, but at least along the way perhaps we can avoid weaponizing hatred.

For today, though, perhaps feeling together, feeling together the tear in our community, feeling together our grief, feeling together our sorrow, perhaps for today that is task enough.