On Sunday afternoon, I attended the Vigil for Charlottesville held at the Veterans Memorial on Walnut Street. A diverse group of people; clergy, business owners, a city council member, school teachers, young people, and citizens of long standing in our community attended. It was loosely organized. It served to give voice to the senseless loss of life in Charlottesville as well as to condemn the rise of hatred.
One of the most common notes sounded in our conversation was the realization by many in the circle that we are confronting issues of race, again! (It says a little something about the age group that was gathered).
My own memories include the race riots that erupted in Harrisburg, PA when I was in junior high. Older students from John Harris High School would come into Thomas Edison Junior High and stir up trouble. They brandished knives and wrote racial slurs on the brick exterior of the school. After a spending a half year in this school, my family moved across the Susquehanna River where my sister and I began attending an all-white school located in a bedroom community inhabited by members of the legislative body at the state capital. I didn’t know it then, but it was a classic example of white privilege.
Here we are again; more violence, hatred, and death. Our voices of lament rise up yet again. Folding Charlottesville in with the shootings at Mother Emmanuel in the Charleston and racially provoked violence in Charlotte, NC. Lord have mercy. When will we slack our thirst for violence? When will we learn to accept one another, each and every one made in the image of God? When will we learn that God wants what is good and just for all? When will we learn to talk to one another with voices of respect, compassion, and love?
As we go forward I hope we can talk about racism, acceptance, and love. I pray as a congregation we will not lapse into quiet assent of racism. No doubt conversation about sin is painful, but honest and thoughtful discussion among those who have caring relationships with one another can bring the transformation through God.