It is heartbreaking, yet amazing the way that God has worked in the hearts of those who lost loved ones in this week’s massacre in South Carolina. In the Gospel accounts of both Matthew and Luke, Jesus teaches us to pray. One of the beautiful lines of the prayer, which we call ‘The Lord’s Prayer,’ is this:
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12).
Through this petition, this plea to our Heavenly Father, we cry out to our Lord and desire forgiveness. Here, we are recognizing our sin, repenting, and seeking forgiveness from God. In the same breath, we are also asking for strength in the forgiveness that we are given, so that we may offer the forgiveness to those who have trespassed against us. The prayer is powerful, yet often one with which we struggle greatly when seeking to live out what we are desiring.
Today, as those who lost people whom they dearly loved spoke to the young man who hatefully murdered their beloved ones, the Lord worked in their lives. They were able to live out the beautiful words of the prayer given to us, offering words of forgiveness and love, even in the midst of their anger, anguish, and pain. Together, as we cry out to the Lord for their comfort and peace, we are also able to give thanks to God for their incredible witness. Truly, the Lord is working through them, lifting them with His great strength and allowing us to give thanks for their witness.
Dearly beloved, let us hear the word of the Lord that was lived out by our beloved sisters and brothers of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:7-12).
Sisters and brothers in Charleston, WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU.
Peace, comfort, hope, and love,