On the evening of June 17, 2015, during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, nine people were killed by gunman Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist. Like a magician walking across broken glass while trying not to bleed, we were left with trying to figure out how to tread the shattered pieces. Some wanted to get political. Others played the blame game. And some screamed an eye for an eye. But it is those who were the most directly involved that showed us a better way. During the killer’s bond hearing, members of Emmanuel AME Church stood to tell the young man what he had taken from them – fathers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and brothers. They reminded him of all that was left shattered in their world. But being people of faith, believing that God can make whole that which was left broken, they let grace glisten through the words of forgiveness.
The members of Emanuel AME Church have reminded us that God isn’t interested in saving a world in a way that is beyond us. God heals people through people. We were once again reminded that God’s grace is so real that you can touch it, smell it, taste it, and even attempt to kill it, but you cannot stop it. When the Church starts being the Church, as the faithful in Charleston have shown us, God’s grace can give us the strength to walk across the broken glass of racism and prejudice. God’s grace is amazing enough for forgiveness.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” Matthew 5:7-9.