I’m sure the predominantly black congregation welcomed this stranger, one who stood out in their midst. I’m sure they encouraged him to join in their prayers, hymns, songs of praise, and scripture readings. And I’m sure they prayed for him, seeing someone who they did not know come into their midst.
Now, the internet is filled with hundreds of thousands of people typing that ancient Christian prayer, “Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.”
Last night as this young man walked into our sister church down in Charleston, dozens of children and adults at Highland Park were singing and dancing and laughing and praying. “God is powerful!” someone would say, and everyone would loudly clasp their hands together and say “Hold on!” “God will provide!” “Hold on!” “God will forgive!” “Hold on!”
Perhaps that is what we need to do, hold on. Hold on to God, for God will be with us even when times are terrible. Hold on to each other, because we are not made to go through this life alone. God has made us into a body so we may strengthen, comfort, and encourage each other. Hold on to those outside our immediate group- those people who may look, think, or act differently from us. The world is trying to tear us apart. Hold on to hope. Do not let this tear you down, or destroy your faith in a God who is changing the world.
Rabbi Hillel once said, “In a place where there is no humanity, strive to be human.” Today we must strive to be human. To mourn with those who mourn. To seek justice, but not retribution . To ask ourselves, “What can I do here, in my own community, in my own church?”
Today I call on my friends at Highland Park to take time to pray for those in Charleston. To reach out others around them. To strive to be human.