Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.
-Song of Solomon 8:6-7
If you’re like me you continue to struggle with the events of a week ago, last Wednesday evening, June 17, when the blessed nine were killed. While there have been news reports about the event, the hatred, the racism, the violence, as well as questions about the future of our nation’s moral base, I have found it hard to find words to express what I continue to feel about this tragedy.
I am clear that God did not cause this. I am equally clear that the young man who perpetrated this awful violence did so from a blend of nature and nurture. It seems to me that there was something deeply wrong within his psyche and something deeply wrong somewhere in his upbringing and our culture that led him to believe that the killing of African Americans was, in some distorted way, a necessity. None of this makes sense to me. What I am sure about is that God is at work in this violence just as God was at work in the violence when Jesus, our Christ, was executed more than two thousand years ago.
As I have watched all of the reporting on the event and the aftermath, I am clear that “love is strong as death,” that “many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” In the week following this horror I have seen more people praying than ever before. I have witnessed countess gestures of goodwill. I have listened in silent awe to the words of the families of those who were killed offering forgiveness for the young man who destroyed those who were loved most and best. And today, one week after the violence and death of last week, members of Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church gathered in the same room where those who were slain had welcomed the shooter into a time of Bible study and prayer to take up the mantle and continue with their Bible study.
Evil would have not only killed those saints last week; it would have also hoped for race war. Evil would have sought to silence the hopes and dreams of a church. Evil would have desperately tried to distract us from the hope of the realm of God being made manifest on earth as it is in heaven. But evil did not win this week, not the evil of hate, not the evil of prejudice, not the evil of racism, not the evil of violence. And death did not win. Love wins. God wins. Hope wins.
Now let us commit to being part of the changes that must take place in our country and the world for God’s realm to come upon the face of the earth. Amen? Amen!
P.S. If you want to see the groundswell of hope, check out this link.