Someone begins telling us about the way our bishop had started the conference earlier that morning. I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Don’t you know what happened in Charleston last night?” she asked.
Like many of those in attendance at the conference, I didn’t know until I got there. We had gone to bed late after an ordination service and hadn’t seen the news the previous evening. When she told me, I sat stunned.
How could it happen to a sister church while in a prayer meeting?
I don’t know.
And in Charleston, the streets of which I have rambled and explored and longed to return to so many times. I couldn’t reconcile the horrific violence with the charm of this southern city.
No, I don’t know how it could happen, but I do know that thousands in attendance at our conference placed their offerings in a basket to help with the funeral costs in Charleston and sent a delegation to stand with those who are hurting.
I do know that we decided to love, not hate.
I do know that a man who stitched tents for a living once wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “ We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love” (I Corinthians 13:12-13 The Message).
There’s much I don’t know, but I do know that if we are to navigate these perilous times, we will have to love extravagantly. We will have to love with a love beyond our own.
We will have to be conduits for the love of God.