Letter to the congregation

Greetings Friends,

My heart is heavy, weary, worn. My spirit is angry, anxious, confused.

I am writing this letter to you the day after the news of 9 people being murdered as they gathered in prayer. They were slaughtered because of the color of their skin. They gathered for their Wednesday Evening Bible Study at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and a terrorist opened fire on the group saying,  “I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

Words escape us and all we can do is have the Holy Spirit intercede for us with groaning too deep for words. Our hearts break with our sisters and brothers in Charlotte.

And yet, my heart is heavy, weary, worn. My spirit is angry, anxious, confused.

The terror that happened at the Lord’s House yesterday was not an isolated incident. It was not the act of one man. Rather, it is one more thread in the twisted tapestry of racial violence that has been a consistent narrative in this land since the first settlers landed on our shores. The slaughter of yesterday is one more instance of terror inflicted against our sisters and brothers of African descent: there is an over 200 year history of Black Churches being the targets of bombings, lynchings, and shootings.

Even though much good has happened in the last 50 years, there is still a long way to go in reconciling our racial relationships. Just because we have a president of African descent does not mean we are in a post-racial America. The weeping in Charlotte is the evidence of this.

Still, my heart is heavy, weary, worn. My spirit is angry, anxious, confused.

As the storm of emotions courses through my being, I am grateful to be a part of a faith community that crosses racial lines. When I stand at the pulpit every Sunday, my heart fills with joy as I see the beautiful tapestry that is created when God weaves together a community that rests in Grace and Love. We are evidence that what is isn’t what has to be. We are a cornerstone of the Beloved Community.

And even so we have a way to go. We have relationships to strengthen. Here, again, we are blessed. There is an organization I have been working with named IndyCAN, and for the last year we have been addressing the issue of systemic racism in our midst. We have created a workshop called The Season of Encounter and I would like for some us to participate in the event on August 1 from 9-4. I will have more details later, but this is an opportunity for us to get to build and strengthen our relationships with each other and with others in our city.

When I think of these gifts, my heart beats a little slower, feels a little lighter. My spirit calms, nerves relax, and one thing becomes clear.

We worship a God who put on human clothes and was murdered innocently. We worship a God who was the object of racism. We worship a God who did not let those things become the story, rather our God changed the story – flipped the script. Our God brought healing to the broken hearted, help to the hurting, and turned death into life. Our God is weeping in Charlotte. Our God is crying in Indianapolis. Our God is there in the midst of tragedy undoing the tapestry of evil that veils the world, and weaving a tapestry of love that will bring us through to the other side.

It is this that brings hope to my heart and solace to my soul. It is the cross that gives me strength.

During this time, not only do I pray for our friends in Charlotte, but I pray for each of you and for us as a community of faith, that we – even in the darkness – can be beacons of light in the word.

God loves you. God loves you. God loves you.

Pastor Justin


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