I’ve been crying a lot over the past several days. (And indeed, I am crying again as I try to type this.) I’ve cried every day since June 17 as I’ve watched the news reports coming out of Charleston, SC. I’ve cried over the senseless and brutal murder of nine good people in a house of worship. I’ve cried for the friends and families of those victims, for the pain they are going through, and for the love and forgiveness they have shown in the midst of their pain.
I’ve cried when I watched the reports of the city of Charleston reaching out to one another, across racial and economic lines, to offer comfort in a time of shared grief. And I’ve cried over the life of a young man in whom so much hate and anger were nurtured over such a long period of time that it erupted in such a violent way, causing hurt for so many.
On Friday, I watched the video of President Obama’s eulogy for the Rev. Sen. Clementa Pinckney. When he started singing Amazing Grace at the end, I started blubbering like a baby. Then, when he called the names of the victims, I cried like I have not cried since my mother’s funeral nearly eight years ago.
Clementa Pinckney found that grace.
Cynthia Hurd found that grace.
Susie Jackson found that grace.
Ethel Lance found that grace.
DePayne Middleton-Doctor found that grace.
Tywanza Sanders found that grace.
Daniel L. Simmons, Sr. found that grace.
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace.
Myra Thompson found that grace.
I cried, and I prayed that somehow Dylann Roof may find that grace too.
And I’ve cried, and am still crying… and praying… for so many of my friends, fellow-citizens of the kingdom of God, and co-laborers in the work of the Lord. I’ve cried for my gay and lesbian friends, in whose eyes I have seen confusion, pain, and fear, and then, in recent days, hopefulness and genuine joy. I’ve cried and prayed for others among my friends who cannot yet, and perhaps never will, believe that those from the LGBT community can enjoy the blessing of God.
I’ve cried because I have dear friends on both sides of this “issue,” and it breaks my heart to know how deep a chasm separates them from genuine and unfettered fellowship in Christ. My heart hurts for all of them. For all of us.
Lord, have mercy.
NOTE: The text above was included in the homily I delivered at the Gathering for Worship in the Liturgical Tradition this past Saturday, June 27, 2015. If you’d like to hear an audio recording of that homily, which runs eight minutes and forty seconds in length, click on the image to the left.