It's been a heavy week reflecting on what happened in Charlottesville and its aftermath. The images have been startling - the weaponized marchers and violence of Saturday, followed by the candlelight peace march Wednesday night.
We don't want to have either of those images. We shudder at the violence and the hatred that incited it; we grieve that a peace march and 3 memorials services were caused by Saturday's tragic events.
Still, given the choice, we will always choose the peace march, the 1000's of voices singing "This Little Light of Mine," the witness of what love does in response to what hate seeks to do.
As the gravity of the events started to sink in earlier in the week, I wanted to tell every African American I saw, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that people who look like me think what happened in Charlottesville was the right thing to do. I'm sorry that anyone in our nation would say 'You don't belong here.' Please know the vast majority of us are certain that you belong here and that hate and hate acts are what do not."
I never said it, though. Instead, I'd say, "Hi" and be greeted by a warm smile and a "Hello" from someone who didn't see me as one of those who would hurt them (despite the fact that I look like one of those who hurt them). They didn't blame me or my race for particular individuals from my race who did evil acts. That, I count, as grace. The forgiveness and efforts for peace and reconciliation and justice, I count as grace. That God can take what was intended for evil and, somehow, bring some good from it, I count as grace.
The conclusion of Joseph's story (Genesis 45:1-15, Genesis 50:15-21), which will be the basis for the sermons on Sunday, is an Biblical example of how God took something intended for evil and used it for good. I pray God will keep doing that and that we'll give God less opportunities to have to do that.