Letter to Mother Emanuel, on Behalf of First Congregational UCC, Moline, Illinois

Dear Mother Emanuel,

First Congregational UCC, Moline, Illinois, has been praying for you. We are prayerfully asking what we can do, as a white church, as our brothers and sisters in Christ attending historic black churches find themselves again as targets of racial terrorism. We have been asking the Spirit to lead us as we seek to make good on a prayer we say each time we celebrate Holy Communion together: “May our every prayer be an action that brings healing, hope, and reconciliation to a broken and hurting world.” We know our $3,000 check is only a beginning, but we send it to you along with our broken hearts, prayers of lament, and openness to how God in Christ calls us to respond as people of faith.

Our faith has been renewed as we witness your response to this tragedy. We affirm the words recently said by Rev. Nelson Rivers: “You cannot be the thing you hate. You cannot become the evil you seek to eradicate. Forgiveness is not the same as ignoring the facts. We want justice.” We are talking with our children about racism, and asking ourselves how through our passivity we have contributed to a culture that has ignored the burdens borne by our brothers and sisters in African American Churches. We are praying for pastors and congregations who seek to answer the call we share together of seeking justice for all of God’s children.

We are also sending cards made by our children in our VBS program, which we offered during the week of the Charleston Massacre. We are committed to raising children who will take up the standard of love and justice and who will, like David, sling stones to slay the lumbering giant of racism.

We will not forget you nor the churches we know you represent. In Christ, we are joined with you in this struggle, and pray that the Spirit will reveal how we can work together in the Quad Cities to be united with you in Charleston.

In Christ,

Rev. Craig Jan-McMahon
Senior Pastor
First Congregational UCC, Moline, Illinois

On the Word “Massacre”

I use the word massacre intentionally: The Charleston Massacre.  In fact, the word is accurately used for the murder of 10 or more people.  Literally and accurately, I use the word inappropriately.  However, I view the murder as more than the number of a beating hearts that were ceased that day.  And as a person of faith, as I watch Mother Emanuel respond, I believe more than ever in the the power of resurrection, which raises us up not only when we reach the end of our lives, but also when the power of death visits us as it did in Charleston.

Of Marshmallows and Temptation

LENT 1B, 2/22/2015:  GENESIS 9:8-17  MARK 1:9-15

What is your wilderness and what is your marshmallow?  How do we give up and give in? How do we distract ourselves?  And how do we nibble a little bit?