Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
The works of the flesh are obvious:…enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy…and things like these….[T]hose who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:19-23
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray “deliver us from evil.” We saw evil on display in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday, when an estimated 500 members of white supremacist groups from around the nation rallied to protest racial and religious diversity and advocate white supremacist views.
The white supremacy advocates clashed with counter-protestors who stood in support of racial and religious inclusion in our country, and violence ensued. Heather Heyer was killed and 19 people were injured when a white supremacist from Ohio slammed his car into a group walking away from the demonstration. We pray for the family of Heather Heyer as they grieve the loss of their daughter in such a tragic way. We pray for the families of the two state troopers killed in a helicopter crash while monitoring the Charlottesville demonstration from the air. We pray for the healing of all injured in this demonstration.
We believe that the ideology of white supremacy is entirely inconsistent with the Christian faith.
Jesus called his followers to “love your neighbor” without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. When individuals and groups advocate hate and discrimination, we followers of Jesus pray that God will change their hearts of hate to hearts of love. We also share the Good News that all persons are precious to God regardless of race, religion or nationality, and we speak out for inclusion of those who are being targeted for discrimination.
The events in Charlottesville are another example of growing animosity and division in our country. As followers of the “Prince of Peace” we work to create communities where people with different points of view on political and religious issues learn to respect those with whom they disagree and have authentic dialogue together. We need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.
I encourage each of us to examine our own hearts to determine what we can do to bring about reconciliation in our families, congregations, communities, nation and world. The first step is to think about someone with whom we have a disagreement and to take the necessary actions towards reconciliation.
May we pray often these words from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace,
where there is hatred, let me sow love.”
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Kent Millard, President
United Theological Seminary