Redemption Hill Family,
I’m still reeling from the way events have unfolded this week. It's hard to even know how to begin to respond to the violence and brokenness we continue to see. To those of you who are hurting deeply, you need to know that your life matters to God. Your life matters to me. Your life matters to our church.
We need to pray together, and to act. Here is my prayer today:
I don’t even know what I am feeling right now.
Heartbreak. Anger. Frustration. Fear. Sadness. Confusion. Sorrow. Mourning.
I’m mourning for Alton Sterling and his family.
I’m mourning for Philando Castile and his family.
I’m mourning for the officers who were killed, and the officers and civilians shot in Dallas, and their families as a peaceful protest turned so quickly into a vicious attack that resulted in the horrific bloodshed of those committed to serve and protect.
And I am mourning for so many of my brothers and sisters who wake up each morning with renewed fears for themselves and their sons and daughters. Their lives matter to me. They matter to our church. They matter to You.
Even in the immediate aftermath, with so much to be investigated and understood, demands to "wait for the facts" don't mitigate the reality that human beings are dead. The breath of life has been snuffed out. Blood has been shed. We know that You will demand an accounting that we cannot match. Still, we long for justice and healing.
We cling to the belief that all people bear the Imago Dei, Your very image and likeness, filled with inherent dignity and worth. Yet our nation, our systems, our laws, and our justifications continue to treat human beings as expendable - far beyond any single example or issue. The cost to all of us is incalculable.
And so we cling to Christ. Knowing that our only hope and comfort is that Jesus Christ took on flesh and experienced the ultimate injustice and human violence, even dying on the cross, so that we could have life and hope in the One who can conquer death. And so it is with that hope that we cry out in lament - recognizing the imbalance and brokenness of this world with a heartbroken yearning for justice, healing, and hope to a God who is with us in the shadow and able to intervene. So we cry out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget us forever?”
Bring justice and healing. Bring unity and peace. By Your Spirit reconcile us through Christ and use Your people, Your Church, as agents of reconciliation and peace.
Father, help us. We need you.
Church, questions still linger on what we can do. Where do we even start? The call to us as followers of Christ is,
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. - Ephesians 2:13-14
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
In light of this call, join me this weekend in the following:
- Weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). No qualifiers.
- Pray for and work toward reconciliation and peace. This begins within our church as we embrace and care for one another, and extends beyond into our city. Start where you can and adopt the posture of a listener and learner to hear other perspectives. Spend more time crying out to God in private than surfing and posting on social media.
- Commit to be a church community that is shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ and reflects reconciliation. The transcultural gospel we preach ought to shape the community of Redemption Hill Church as we are woven together, a unified tapestry made more beautiful by its diversity. That means that in Redemption Hill Church all who bear the image and likeness of God will be welcome, embraced, cared for, and loved. You can make a difference by reaching out to and building friendships with people who are unlike you. Even the simple commitment to gather each week to worship Jesus in unity with each other is a witness to God’s goodness and grace.
- Work toward justice, mercy, and healing. This begins with small acts of loving our neighbors in our workplaces and neighborhoods, and extends to fighting for justice at every opportunity. We must not be silent, but we also must tell the better story of hope, life, and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Let’s stand together.