If I were still in the pulpit, preparing to preach on the second Sunday of Easter, perhaps the lowest attendance of the year, would I have the courage to talk about North Charleston?
It is just down the road from me. The violence captured on a cell phone video isn’t around the globe, it is in my back yard. I can’t distance myself from it because it is too close – not New York or Florida or Missouri, but in the state I’ve called home for 17 years, the one where I am raising my children.
If I were in the pulpit tomorrow, what would I say? It is Doubting Thomas Sunday. Would I be brave enough to say that’s who I’ve been? I cringed in 2012 when pictures of Trevon hit the news. I thought of my son, a teenager, white, but more often than not wearing a hoodie. I admired the protestors who chanted “I can’t breathe.” I worried for friends living close to the riots in Ferguson. I thought signs that read, “Black Lives Matter” were right and true.
Even so, I didn’t want to believe that racism ruled. I didn’t want to believe what statistics make hard to deny. I didn’t want to acknowledge that Martin Luther King’s dream looks less and less like our reality.
I have been Thomas. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Now the marks are undeniably visible, caught on video, eight shots leaving four holes in the back. I believe. Now what?
In the face of senseless death how do we, on the second Sunday of Easter, proclaim resurrection power?
It begins by putting our hands in the wounds we’ve inflicted and recognizing that they are fresh, painful and undeniable. It calls for honest, soul-searching confession and costly forgiveness. It requires wails of lament. It demands speaking the truth in love and hearing that truth with humility. It will entail grief, deep and persistent grief, about what has been done and what has been left undone.
It also means, on the second Sunday of Easter, proclaiming resurrection power, a power that sends us out of our locked and fear-filled rooms, a power that enables us to go to the darkest places in our past, in our present and in our hearts, a power that defeats death and demonstrates the love of God, for all people, a power that reconciles the seemingly irreconcilable.
I hope that truth is preached in our pulpits tomorrow. I pray that truth is proclaimed in our lives. I know Christ is sending us out. It is time for Christians to get out from behind locked doors and do the hard work of peace making and forgiveness, naming that the wounds are real, claiming the resurrection power to heal them.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.