God of all mercy…
We repent of the evil that enslaves, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.
–Enriching our Worship 1, page 56
Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
in your compassion forgive us our sins,
known and unknown, things done and left undone.
–Book of Common Prayer, page 393
These Confessions have echoed in my ears since the recent murder of nine saints of color in Charleston. Thankfully, the alleged killer has been captured and confessed. Grieving relatives of the victims have taught us what forgiveness looks like. Justice will, we hope, prevail in the courts.
And yet we must admit that the underlying evil of systemic racism still enslaves. This is a system that I personally participate in and benefit from by virtue of being a white man in America. So I fearfully and prayerfully ask myself, What are the true depths of racism that our culture has dug? Where is this evil being perpetrated on our behalf today? What have we knowingly or unknowingly done in our past and what do we still do today that catalyzes racism’s future and reinforces the ideologies from which despicable acts of violence and hatred flow?
I hope that as members of a Christian community committed to reconciliation we might engage these and other tough questions as we seek to bring about the change we want for the world. Our Rector has invited us to enter into a sustained conversation “recognizing the deep tear God’s tapestry experienced… in Charleston.” I pray that we all might dare to do so. Selfishly exercising the power of privilege by avoiding such difficult discussions merely permits injustice and oppression to persist, within our church’s walls and throughout God’s greater world.
–The Reverend Jonathan E. Soyars, Assisting Priest