People of faith deserve to be remembered by people of faith

charlestonUpdate on June 27th: It was not hard to see a secular spin coming in this tragedy, but the push back from the black Christian community has been inspiring. Michael Wear in Christianity Today is tired of people attempting to explain away the forgiveness exhibited by the families in the Charleston massacre:

… I am a Christian because of the black church and black faith. When I was far from God, it was the unashamedly Christian black culture, movies, and music of people like Lauryn Hill and Fred Hammond that introduced me to Jesus. It is the black church that so consistently embodies the confounding, radical love of Jesus. What other American community today displays less shame, less reservation, less self-awareness about proclaiming the Christian faith? I will not turn the Bride of the living Christ into a cultural artifact.

We serve a God who will make evil scatter with light, who is the answer to every skeptic’s questions, and who is renewing all things. The Charleston family members could forgive because they believe that fateful night in the upper room of Mother Emanuel was not the end of their loved ones’ stories. The Charleston victims are as they were: in the kingdom of God, beloved by him, their greatest longings realized.

—————————————————————————————–
Nine followers of Christ were murdered by a young outsider they welcomed into their Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday. For them we pray, they are:

  • Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old
  • Susie Jackson, 87 years old
  • Ethel Lance, 70 years old
  • Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49 years old
  • The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old
  • Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74 years old
  • Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45 years old
  • Myra Thompson, 59 years old

Soon, people who have never contemplated, let alone attended, a Bible study will presume to identify and take up a secular cause in their names. Why would anyone presume that their legacies should be about anything other than what they were dedicating their time towards? Witnessing to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In fact, less than 2 days after their murders, the families of some of those executed in the coldest of blood, reaffirmed in the most powerful witnessing that can be imagined, that their surviving family members continue to believe after being tested in a manner those of us observing would most fear. Affirming that “they lived in love and their legacies will live in love.” This is what they said:

The daughter of Ethel Lance – “I just wanted everybody to know, to you, I forgive you. You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you.” She asked that God have mercy on the shooter’s soul. “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. May God forgive you. And I forgive you.”

A family member of Anthony Thompson – “I forgive you and my family forgives you, but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent . . . confess, give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so that He can change it—can change your ways no matter what happens to you, and you will be OK. Do that and you will be better.”

The mother of Tywanza Sanders – “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” she said. Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same… Tywanza was my hero. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you.”

The granddaughter of Daniel Simmons Sr. – “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof—everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So, hate won’t win… I just want to thank the courts for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”

On re-watching the video, I couldn’t help noticing the two guards. It felt as though they stood in for the rest of us. At times, I imagined that they imagined taking the cowardly murderer into a private room to exact revenge. But most of the time, they just seem to be suspended in disbelief at the Grace they were listening to, all the while struggling to maintain their emotions.

A column by Peggy Noonan about those families is copied in full at end of post.

——————————————-
A Bow to Charleston – Peggy Noonan

A Northerner bows, deeply, to the South:

I have never seen anything like what I saw on television this afternoon. Did you hear the statements made at the bond hearing of the alleged Charleston, S.C., shooter?

Nine beautiful people slaughtered Wednesday night during Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and their relatives were invited to make a statement today in court. Did you hear what they said?

They spoke of mercy. They offered forgiveness. They invited the suspect, who was linked in by video from jail, to please look for God.

There was no rage, no accusation—just broken hearts undefended and presented for the world to see. They sobbed as they spoke.

“I just wanted everybody to know, to you, I forgive you,” said the daughter of Ethel Lance, killed in the shooting. “You took something very precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you.” She asked that God have mercy on the shooter’s soul. “You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. May God forgive you. And I forgive you.”

A family member of Anthony Thompson said he forgave the shooter. “I forgive you and my family forgives you, but we would like you to take this opportunity to repent . . . confess, give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so that He can change it—can change your ways no matter what happens to you, and you will be OK. Do that and you will be better.”

The mother of Tywanza Sanders, also killed, told the shooter: “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms,” she said. “Every fiber in my body hurts, and I will never be the same. . . . Tywanza was my hero. But as we said in Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on you.”

The granddaughter of Daniel Simmons Sr., also killed Wednesday, said, “Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof—everyone’s plea for your soul is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So, hate won’t win. . . . I just want to thank the courts for making sure that hate doesn’t win.”

As I watched I felt I was witnessing something miraculous. I think I did. It was people looking into the eyes of evil, into the eyes of the sick and ignorant shooter who’d blasted a hole in their families, and explaining to him with the utmost forbearance that there is a better way.

What a country that makes such people. Do you ever despair about America? If they are America we are going to be just fine.

Afterward, outside the courtroom, people gathered and sang gospel hymns.
* * *

I just have to say what a people the people of Charleston are. They are doing something right, something beautiful, to be who they’ve been the past few days.

From the beginning they handled the tragedy with such heart and love. They handled it like a community, a real, alive one that people live within connected to each other.

From Thursday morning when news first spread everyone I saw on TV, from the mayor, Joseph Riley, to those who spoke for the church, to the police spokesmen, to the governor, Nikki Haley—they were all so dignified and genuinely grieving, and not the pseudo-grief we always see when something bad happens and the leader says our prayers are with the victims. Haley had to stop speaking for a few moments, so moved was she when she made her first statement. Riley said today, of the shooter, “This hateful person came to this community with this crazy idea that he would be able to divide us, but all he did was make us more united and love each other even more.” I read that quote Friday afternoon in the Journal, in Valerie Bauerlein’s story, and I thought: Riley isn’t just talking, he is telling the truth.

Charleston deserves something, a bow. So too do the beautiful people who go to Wednesday night Bible study in America in 2015. They are the people who are saving America every day, completely unheralded, and we can hardly afford to lose them.

There’s only one thing Charleston doesn’t deserve. People apart from the trauma, far away, have already begun to bring their political agenda items to the tragedy and make sure they are debated. Because this is the right time for a political debate, right?

Here’s an idea: Why don’t you leave the grieving alone right now? Why don’t you not impose your agenda items on them? Why don’t you not force them to debate while they have tears in their throats?

Don’t politicize their pain. Don’t turn this into a debate on a flag or guns. Don’t use it to make your points and wave your finger from your high horse.

These people are doing it right without you.

They are loving each other and helping each other. Let them grieve in peace. And respect them as what they are, heroic.

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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in Catholic Faith & Inspiration, Current Affairs & History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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