While fear, angst and rage loom throughout Americans at the moment, many Christians don't know how to ultimately respond to the recent murders of LGBTQ community members in Florida, two African American men and nearly a dozen police officers. As Christians, some pastors say the answer should be simple: We stand against injustice, mourn with those who mourn, and love our neighbor as ourselves. All too often, people are silent when the values of unconditional love need to be spoken, reminds the Transforming the Bay with Christ (TBC) pastoral staff in California.
For example, faith leaders in the Oakland region are joining to help unify the United Church in the Bay Area. This weekend, they are dwelling on connecting to the pain that people of ethnicities face every day. They also are focusing on the righteousness and justice that mirror God's Kingdom principles, not political, economic or social systems that tend to divide people.
'We ask that people of faith do not remain silent as we wrestle with principalities and powers that manifest themselves in racial prejudice, systemic evil and violence," TBC representatives stated in an email to congregants.
"We ask you to mourn with those who have untimely lost their lives whether in service or in their daily routines."
They offer the following prayerful approach as a way to approach recent violent incidences in the United States: "Let us not rush to the language of healing before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound. Let us not rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction. Let us not offer false equivalences, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment. Let us not rush past the loss of a mother's child, a father's child...someone's beloved son. Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance. Let us not value a false peace over righteous justice. Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness and the pain that is life in community together. Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder."
Instead, they suggest the following next steps:
1. Let us mourn for our fallen police officers and pray for the protection of all those who have taken that sacred oath.
2. Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially.
3. Let us together stand in solidarity against violence.
4. Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.
5. Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease and sit in the ashes of this nation's original sin.
6. Let us be silent when we don't know what to say.
7. Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.
8. Let us decrease so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.
9. Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground.
10. Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.
Lastly, they offer the following prayer: "God in your mercy, show me my own complicity in injustice. Convict me for my indifference. Forgive me when I have remained silent. Equip me with a zeal for righteousness. Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness. Christ have mercy on us and our fallen world."