"Whatever we do, we must keep God in the forefront. Let us be Christian in all of our actions. But I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love, love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian face, faith. There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love.” — Martin Luther King Jr., December 1955
Today as we ponder our racial journey as a nation, we have many reasons to rejoice. Americans of every color and ethnicity have opportunities they didn’t have just a generation ago. Many now rightly see the sin of racism as just that: a grievous offense against you and your nature. And, we have borne witness to the toppling of institutions and leaders who have proved to be no leaders at all by perpetuating racism on an individual or systemic level.
But if we will have eyes to see, we recognize that in many corners of our city and our country, things are still very broken. There is ample cause for grief. Physical divisions, that we have made ourselves, exist between races in Columbia. There are spiritual and emotional fissures that cut even further and run even deeper.
Today, in our community - and in communities just like ours - people of color are treated with quiet suspicion, some with outright contempt. Many have suffered emotional and physical violence at the hands of broken men who fail to understand the question “Who is my neighbor?” let alone attempt to answer it.
Lord, as we mourn, we repent. For the subtle, unspoken prejudices we hold. For the stereotypes we cling to so we can maintain an uncomplicated view of the world. For the times we have stopped our ears to our brothers’ and sisters’ cries. For the indictment it is upon us that, in a city we live and worship in, there is still so much hurt and confusion.
In the words of Dr. King, we recognize that racism revolts against love. Injustices meted out on the basis of color directly deny the love you used to make the world and the love through which you redeemed it. The beauty of your image is in all men, and when that truth is rejected because of race, it is an unloving act against you.
Lord, give us a love that would see justice done. Love that listens to its neighbor. Love that welcomes someone very different into its home. Love that stands alongside the oppressed and fights with and for them because it knows that you are for those who suffer.
Lord, we recognize that the one true call upon our lives is to imitate Christ. Jesus corrected the greatest injustice of all through an act of love. He came to men and women who had strayed from you, winning back their worship by loving them to the point of laying down his life. We believe you are calling us to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters who have been harmed by racism. And we know that you will give us all we require, because it is undeniably your will that peoples from all tribes, tongues and nations experience harmony under you.
We thank you that in Jesus, you were pleased to satisfy justice through love. Help us to do the same.
In his name, Amen