[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina] The violence this past weekend in Charlottesville is both heartbreaking and sickening. Heartbreaking that innocent lives were lost and others were seriously injured, and that violence was used to try and silence and intimidate those who stood against hatred, racism and evil. The events were sickening in that our divisions in this country have reached a crisis point that resulted in an eruption of violence with deadly consequences.
How are we to respond, as Christians, in a way that condemns these actions, but does not contribute to the rhetoric of hate? We will need to rediscover the deep roots of non-violence embedded in the gospel and the Jesus Movement: non-violence that calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute others, to refuse to fight evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good.
Anger, even righteous, thirst-for-justice-anger, may be too volatile in this particular moment in time to be effective, especially if it escalates the situation. What we may need to do is to refocus and re-immerse ourselves in the powerful love of the vulnerable Jesus of Nazareth. We may need, now more than ever, to rededicate ourselves to principles Paul wrote about in his letter to the Philippians: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God …” (Philippians 4:4-6)
Pray for the safety of the peacemakers who came to let their lights so shine. Pray for those who have been sucked into the powerful vacuum of evil that finds its force through the absence of love. Pray that those who resort to violence – no matter what their political perspective – will be met with soul force of goodness that must rise up, organize and unite people of faith from all traditions that teach and practice love of one’s neighbors.
Overcoming evil with good can happen only with an infusion of the holiness that comes from God. Our prayer is that we will be channels and vessels of the goodness and grace whose source is the author of life, the one who proclaims that all life is sacred, holy.
The Rt. Rev. Sam Rodman
Bishop, Diocese of North Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple
Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of North Carolina