[NOTE: Andrew Langbehn is a former pastor at Community Mennonite Fellowship]
Many of you are aware of the recent violence and deaths in Charlottesville, VA this past week. I find it is important to respond during these times of violence and anxiety in our neighborhoods and streets.
First, we must seek God’s will in this situation. That means that we know what is God’s will and what is our will for this situation. We should seek and ask God in prayer for an understanding of how we should respond. Above our allegiances to this country or groups of people in this country, we should honor God above all else.
Second, we must become truth tellers and peace makers. We need to tell the truth about this situation in Charlottesville, VA—it is racism, it is white supremacy, it is domestic terrorism, and it is evil. It does not represent Jesus in any way, shape or form. The Kingdom of God is a place for all nations and all people; it is not a safe harbor for bigotry, and silence on our part would give it safe harbor. As truth tellers, we call it like it is—this isn’t some new age term. This is an ancient effect of Sin, and we are opposed to it. And, another equally important truth—that they, whoever they are, are prodigal sons and daughters of God, pulled away and deceived. And we remember the truth that our fight is not against flesh and blood.
We trust the Holy Spirit to name it in our hearts and in our churches if our leaders and our community fail to do so. And we trust the Holy Spirit to tell the truth about our own hearts—that we wouldn’t harbor fear, anxiety, anger, or hate in situations like this.
So we must become peace makers. Not a people sweep things under the rug or think things are ok once the violence ends and there is once again “peace.” But a justice seeking people; a people who mourn with those who mourn, who weep with those who weep, who hurt when others are hurt. We must continue the endless work of combatting evil in this world with the tools of love, mercy, and grace given to us by Jesus. But, it’s not enough to just make a statement on Sunday morning and then go on with life.
Third, we must be intentional and tune in. As much as you are able, tune in and understand. Learn and know. Pray and seek direction. It is a privilege that this violence only enters our home through our electronic devices—it’s not in our streets in Corning; and what is not in our faces, we tend to turn off and ignore. But the light was sent into the darkness, and we are a sent people of light. God didn’t give us prayer so that we could give responsibility back to God (as if to throw up a prayer and change the channel); he gave us prayer so that we could know how to respond as responsible citizens in God’s Kingdom. That we would know God’s will and be courageous enough to implement it in our actions.
We would examine our own hearts and dispel fear, anxiety, anger, and hate. Give us the words and the opportunity to be truth tellers and peace makers. We ask for true peace and transforming of hearts in ourselves, our community, our nation, and this world.