calendar January 29, 2021 in anti-racism, Communications

The Response to Violence and Hate is Beloved Community

A message from our Synod Secretary, the Rev. Karl M. Richard:

Grace and peace from Jesus Christ, the redeemer of the world.

I was horrified by the events that took place in Washington DC on January 6th when armed rioters stormed the capitol building in an attempt to overturn the election.  It made me ask, “Is this who we are as a nation? As a society?”

What I have had to acknowledge, to my despair, is that the answer is “Yes, this is who we are.”  It is not all of who we are.  It is not the best of who we are.  But it is decidedly too large a part of who we are as a nation, as a society.

We cannot say “this is not us.”  One of those arrested is a firefighter from Southeastern Pennsylvania.  Another, who is alleged to have planned to sell the computer of the Speaker of the House to Russian operatives, has been arraigned in Harrisburg.

It was on the Feast of the Epiphany – the day we celebrate the revelation of the Light of God’s love for all people through Jesus Christ – that this band of rioters stormed the Capitol.  Many bore symbols of the Confederacy, which are symbols of hate to our siblings of color.  Others wore clothes which showed support of Nazi death camps and Jewish extermination.

They were led by white nationalists and white supremacists, who brought a violent insurrection against the sitting, elected government of the United States.

We are far from the dream the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned, where “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

They did not prevail.  On January 20th we witnessed the inauguration of a new president.

But for us to live in peace with one another there needs to be more than a transition from one leader to another. There needs to be acknowledgment of wrongs that have been done.  There needs to be accountability.  There needs to be repentance before there can be reconciliation.

We as a nation “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  This is an essential part of our national creed.  Another part of this creed is the provision that all people be afforded “equal justice under the law.”

We as a nation need to acknowledge that we do not recognize all people as equal.  We do not allow all people equal access to society, or equal protection under the law.  And we as Christians, particularly we Christians who are white, need to recognize that this is not just a violation of our national creed, but of our call and faith as people of God in Christ.

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America we have declared that white supremacy is racism and we condemn it; the love of God is for all people, without exception, and we proclaim it.

Jesus did not kill those who disagreed with him.  He died for them.  He did not come to save only those who were like him.  He came to offer salvation to all.  As we read in John 3:16, “God so loved the WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son…”

As we move into this new administration, let us be people who affirm the truth of both our Christian Creed that God loves the world, and our national creed that all people are created equal.  Let us pray for peace, and let us act for peace.  Let us stand for and with the oppressed.  Let us root out the oppressor within us, and stand against those who would oppress others.  Let us acknowledge our wrongs and repent of them, so that true reconciliation can happen.  Let us follow the Spirit of Christ to embody the dream of Dr. King.  Let us, with God’s help, become the Beloved Community God intends us to be.  And may this be who we are as a nation, and as a society.