Forgive everyone, everything.
Do it now.
- Morrie Schwartz, Tuesdays With Morrie
The paper is full of it. The internet discussions go on and on.
The television shows the pictures again and again.
We can hardly believe it. We are all in shock.
What has left an indelible mark on my soul is seeing the faces of the grieving church goers at Mother Emanuel, AME Church (African, Methodist, Episcopal) in Charleston, South Carolina.
They were having a Bible Study on a typical Wednesday night. Most of them were African American and in walked a white, young man.
They welcomed him. Without hesitation, in the name of Jesus they welcomed him.
And then, as we all know, at the end of the Bible Study he stood up, uttered unthinkable comments to his hosts, and slaughtered nine of them. Evil incarnate. This mixed up, young man took the lives of some of my Christian brothers and sisters.
And my tears flow.
The tears of our nation flow.
And we are stunned at the violence.
But even more than that...
we are awed and amazed at how Jesus lives in these amazing folks who embrace and love the Lord.
The same Jesus I know and love and serve.
We are stunned and shocked and horrified at what that young man did.
Yet his act of violence is nothing compared to seeing
what love and reconciliation and forgiveness can do to mend broken hearts and a broken nation.
My brothers and sisters in that church are the face of Jesus, the face of forgiveness.
We see the photographs... black and white hands intertwined and black and white hearts breaking.
All of us. Broken. All of us sinners. Some white, some black, some yellow, some brown, some red.
As the song says...
Jesus loves the little children, all the children
of the world. Yellow, black, and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.
This hits close to home for me.
Mother Emanuel AME Church is part of my church family. My home church is Bethel AME in Spokane. Most of our congregation is made up of a rainbow of colors, yet as a white person I am by far in the minority.
Yet I have been warmly welcomed from the first day, seven years ago, when Bert and I walked in that door. Loved on. Prayed for. Embraced... just like Jesus would embrace me.
These folks I see most Sundays don't just talk about Jesus, they walk the walk of Jesus.
Last Sunday we cried and cried. We came to church and saw police cars around, just in case a copy cat situation might take place. There were news cameras and lights and the press.
Mind you, we are a tiny little church. A tiny church with huge hearts and so much love.
So on Sunday we sang and cried and read all of those names
that were cut down at the Bible Study in Charleston. We hugged and held each other and prayed for all of our church "family" in that Charleston church. One of our church members, my friend Roberta Greene, went to elementary school right across the street from Mother Emanuel.
Forgiveness and reconciliation and love...that's what I felt this Sunday at Bethel AME.
And then, after I got home from our church service, I saw the pictures of Charleston on that same Sunday, when the church doors at Mother Emanuel had opened again.
After church thousands and thousands of people from Charleston crossed a bridge, together. Blacks and whites, together. Christians and Jews, together. Old and young, together. Holding hands, together. Walking and singing, together.
They would stand together against this horrific act of violence, together.
They reminded us all that...
Love always wins.
God's love always wins, and maybe that's the biggest lesson we have all learned from this horrible, heart-breaking tragedy.
"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." ...