The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. Isaiah 32:17, NRVS
The words of Isaiah are on my heart as I search my soul for peace and understanding during this time of deadly tensions, the COVID-19 pandemic, political divisiveness, and racism. This afternoon we heard the announcement of the conviction of Derek Chauvin on all counts in the death of George Floyd.
The tragic, racially charged, and unnecessary death of Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers is only one flare-up of the racial pandemic. Last week we heard of the death Daunte Wright as the result of gunfire from a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. The list of Black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day. The pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy, increasingly incited by political rhetoric, grows each day. The fear among parents of Black children grows each day. The flouting of our laws against racial profiling and discrimination grows each day. How do we respond?
We love God. We love God as we study the scriptures, offer praise to God, confess our sins, return thanks for our blessings, and walk humbly.
We love our neighbor. We cannot love God whom we have never seen if we do not love our neighbor whom we have seen (I John 4). Love of neighbor is allowing the other person to tell the story of their suffering and trauma. Love of neighbor means pursuing justice, as systems and structures harm individuals.
Love of God and neighbor is the very definition of personal and social holiness for a United Methodist. John Wesley stated this clearly in “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.” Let us all be models of personal and social holiness in our expressions of faith and action.
I call all upon all United Methodists to claim our witness as Wesleyan Christians to stand against such hateful violence. Toward that end, we affirm these words found in the Preamble to our Social Principles:
Grateful for God’s forgiving love, in which we live and by which we are judged, and affirming our belief in the inestimable worth of each individual, we renew our commitment to become faithful witnesses to the Gospel, not alone to the ends of the earth, but also the depth of our common life and work. (The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church p. 106)
My profound hope is that our response to this verdict will be lived out in our common life and work in our churches and the larger community in ways that reflect the reconciling love of Christ. So I pray:
Lord, I come before you to pour out my worries, anxieties, and fears at Your feet. I am claiming and declaring Your promise of blessings of peace and strength for every one of your precious children. Bring harmony into our world, our country, our communities and neighborhoods, and our souls. Let us understand that your love and peace passes all worldly understanding and make me a light for others to see Your strength. Let peace begin with me and in my heart. Amen.
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Laurie Haller
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