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A word from the Dean in times of conflict

Last night, a peaceful demonstration turned violent in our city.  Fires were set, property was damaged, and statues toppled.  It would be easy to focus in on the riot that took place, using it as an excuse to avoid the great underlying issues that we face today, but that would be cowardice.

Though the Advent’s building did not suffer any damage, I am not breathing a sigh of relief this morning.  What good would it do to gain our buildings and still lose our soul as a nation?

We live in hateful times.  Prejudice that manifests itself in the murder of innocent black men.  Prejudice that assumes the worst about one another.  Prejudice that leads us to believe that might makes right and we can force a solution to our problems by human willpower. 

The problems that we face are not new to us as God’s people.  We saw them when Cain slew Abel (Genesis 4:1-18).  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, Cain asks God.  “Listen!  Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil,” God replies.  Do we hear our brothers’ blood crying out? 

What we are struggling with runs much deeper than we know.  Addressing the manifestations of our problems is important, but insufficient to deal with the sickness that lies at the core of our being.  Only God is able to perform that kind of open-heart surgery, so the most important thing we can do is pray

Here are some prayers from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer that I would encourage you to use:

For Social Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and lifegiving Spirit may so
move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the
people of this land], that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our
divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

In Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus
Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For Cities

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of
that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their
glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders.  Enable us to eliminate
poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail
with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and
women from different cultures and with differing talents may
find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The second thing I would encourage you to do is listen.  Most of us do not understand the experience of African-Americans.  The only way we will be able to do that is to listen. 

I will enact some programming changes in the Dean’s Class that I hope will enable us to listen.  As helpful as it may be, it will be insufficient.  The listening that we do has to bring us together; it must be intentional and repeated.  We need to go out of our way to hear the stories of our black brothers and sisters and not be content to live life apart from one another.

Finally, remember that God has the final word.  Though our world is marred by sin, there is going to come a day when there will be no separation between God’s people (Rev. 7:9-10).  God’s justice will roll down like waters (Amos 5:24) and all will be set to rights (Rev. 21:3-5).  Come, Lord Jesus. 

In the meantime, pray, listen, and remember.

May God have mercy on us all,

andrew

 

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