Our theme this year is “The Life.” Today we explore that them with….
The Life that Speaks
Chris Cherry is an ordained minister with over nine years of experience in student ministry. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Tory and dog Yadi. Chris loves reading, especially theology and philosophy, and has been devoting more time to writing. Chris also enjoys sports, music, and flamin hot Cheetos.
On the evening of June 17, 2015 a white supremacist walked into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and murdered nine people, including their Senior Pastor, during a prayer service. This act of terrorism rocked the country. At the time, I was living and working in Columbia, South Carolina, about two hours up the road from Charleston. The shooter made a run for it and his escape path went through Columbia on his way to North Carolina, where he was eventually caught. Our church building was full of children for Vacation Bible School and we went into lock-down mode, had people posted at every door, and checked for news updates frequently. Eventually, the shooting in Charleston indirectly led to the Governor of South Carolina removing the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State House. All throughout this process, there were KKK rallies in downtown Columbia and the national news swarmed the state.
At church, not one word was spoken in any official capacity. Not one. We were ten minutes from the state capitol where the flag was removed and the KKK was assembling and we were two hours from one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism in our country’s history, and not one word was spoken about it.
What is the role of the church in tragedies like these? What should ministers say to their congregations? When do you re-write a sermon on Saturday night because world events demand to be addressed? Do we wait for nine innocent lives to be lost INSIDE a church before we speak? Do we wait for white supremacists and neo-Nazis to rally on a college campus resulting in the death of one and injuries to countless others before we speak? Do we wait?
We all have a calling to speak out against injustice and against evil. We all have a calling to do everything we can to show love and compassion. We all have a calling to live a life that speaks.
We shouldn’t wait for the next headline before speaking. Our call for justice and compassion and inclusion should happen so often, people expect it of us. The youth in your lives should know you stand on the side of the marginalized. We need to teach and preach messages of grace and justice, even when the eyes of the world are focused on celebrities and sports and the mundane.
We are called to live a life that speaks.