A swirl of emotions make up the grief process: loss, anger, denial, guilt — the list goes on. I’m feeling all these.
This grief comes from news of lives senselessly, violently taken.
But it is even more personal than that for me. I have friends, acquaintances and people I respect greatly, that I’ve talked with just this month. Some by phone, others on videoconference. In some cases, I’ve talked to their parents, or members of their church.
Their skin color is different than mine.
They live with integrity. They invest in their families. Many have persevered through obstacles I did not in order to achieve levels of education or professional accomplishments others would have given up on — including me.
There are lots of questions from them all, and some are spiritually unresolved. Others are fully devoted followers of Jesus in whom the fruit of the Spirit is so evident. Some are my colleagues in ministry. Many are members of The Wesleyan Church family.
But their appearance is different than mine, so they are the targets of racial slurs. They have very real fears I do not experience — life and death fears. They are followed in stores and stopped in cars. They too often feel unsafe. People draw conclusions about them by what they see, and the racist sin that can seethe within us that shapes what we see. Their lives matter. They should not fear being shot doing everyday activities or to be killed while in custody.
These are issues of justice and mercy. We must have the humility to admit sin and systemic injustice. Our response must be rooted in the greatest commandments: “love your neighbor as yourself.” Only the power of the Holy Spirit can break the chains of sin and empower love to win out over sinful impulses. These are matters important to God, spoken to in His Word and expected of His people.
Our General Conference 2020 plans included a concert of prayer on May 31, Pentecost Sunday. I was disappointed when the conference had to be postponed but remained committed to gathering the church together for prayer.
For that reason, The Wesleyan Church is joining together Pentecost Sunday for a concert of prayer in order to humble ourselves before our God, asking for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. God’s Holy Spirit unleashed within us and our Church is the only force strong enough to guide our words and actions, to repair what is broken here on earth.
Revelation 7:9 gives us a glimpse of heaven: “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
In reflecting on that scene, I’ve so often prayed “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth is it is in heaven. And then I add: “and please, Lord, let it be on earth as it is in heaven for those of us who make up The Wesleyan Church.”