July 8, 2016
The nation is reeling from the shock of the violent loss of lives over the last three days, which has resulted in confusion and a sense of hopelessness. Our grief for the families of the victims, for many of us, is unbearable.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children, because they are no more.’” (Jeremiah 31:15 – New American Standard). Just as Rachel wept, God is weeping today for the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five police officers who were killed in Dallas, as well as the injured. There is so much grief and anger in the face of these deaths.
There is a fear for our children, particularly our sons. We are saddened that they are being judged, not by their actions, but by the color of their skin. The list of names keeps growing … Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile… Argue what you will about their actions, what is clear in each case is the violent outcome in the street was not justice.
We also fear for those dedicated police officers who care deeply for people who they are called to serve and protect. Our communities are rife with the effects of racism, hate and violence. We know that many police departments and individual police officers are taking measures to identify and address systemic racism in policing. And we pray for all officers on the streets, recognizing the quick decisions they must make.
These tragic incidents are symptoms of a criminal justice system where in the eyes of some officers, the color of a person’s skin is seen as a threat. The disproportionate number of people of color incarcerated in the prisons of the United States speaks volumes about the problem the nation has with equitable treatment and opportunity.
We call on each of you, as Jesus’ followers to pray for the families of those who lost loved ones in these tragic incidents. We pray that we will move beyond numbness to turn our tears and sense of hopelessness into action. We must have honest conversations about race, grounded in the love and hope God gives us. We must model civility and mutual respect even in emotionally charged conversations. We must seek to share God’s love and we must persevere in calling for justice.
As Rachel’s tears were a sign of loss, they were also a sign of hope for the future. We, too, must live in hope as we denounce violence, bigotry and hatred, and seek to create a world where the dignity of all of God’s creation is affirmed and respected.
Let it be so!
|Rev. Julia Brown Karimu||Rev. Dr. Ron Degges||Rev. Dr. Timothy James||Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins|
|President, Division of Overseas Ministries||President, Disciples Home Missions||Associate General Minister and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation||General Minister and President|
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