I weep for the people of Charleston, South Carolina, and I weep with the people of Charleston, South Carolina.
The news this last week was shocking.
On Wednesday a young white man attended the Bible study at iconic black church, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, after being there for an hour he pulled out a gun and shot 9 of the people there dead.
What is more shocking is that the man, Dylann Roof, did it deliberately. e told police he wanted to start a race war.
If a race war had broken out it would be understandable. In the last year there have been riots in at least 3 different parts of the USA following Police shootings of unarmed black men.
The response couldn’t have been more surprising.
At the prayer vigil after the shooting, people, black and white, held hands in solidarity.
Family members of some of those murdered have said they forgive Roof for what he has done.
One of the church Pastors has said that the church is open for everyone and will remain to stay open.
What I would have expected is for black and white people to be in conflict.
What I would have expected is for calls for the maximum penalty available in that part of the world for someone who could do this.
What I would have expected is for the church to close its doors to prevent things like this happening again.
I would have expected this to happen in a human world. It would be understandable: To react like this is human nature.
What has happened in Charleston is that the Kingdom of God has broken out.
In God’s kingdom we pray for those that hate us. In God’s kingdom we forgive, with a forgiveness that goes beyond saying the slate is clean , it goes on to doing the best for them.
God’s forgiveness does not say everything is all right. Everything is far from all right. The grief on the faces of the bereaved in the newscast has been tangible. I have wept along with them. But God’s love and forgiveness go through the grief.
God showed how forgiveness worked in Jesus. He did not come for the good people who need no forgiveness, but for the bad evil people that the Bible calls sinners. And when these sinners were crucifying him, Jesus prayed for their forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not easy, I cannot imagine the pain there is behind the words of forgiveness that have been said in Charleston. But it is a sign that they are living by God’s standards in God’s kingdom.
I pray for the people and ask you to join me in praying for them.
Pray for the victims. Pray for the people of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Pray for the people of Charleston, South Carolina. Pray also for those who would do things like this: For the free to carry firearms people and for the white supremacists. Pray this prayer, “Father, may your Kingdom come.”