So many thoughts are racing through my head this morning. They began last night when the news came in from downtown Charleston. A lone gunman had walked into a Bible study at Emmanuel AME Church, sat though an hour of Bible study, and then proceeded to open fire and kill 9 innocent men and women who had simply gathered for prayer and worship.  What in the world is going on?

I moved to the Charleston area in 2003. We have lived in Moncks Corner, North Charleston, and Summerville.  This is an absolutely amazing place to live and we have fallen in love with this part of the country.  For those who have never been to Charleston, allow me to share just a couple of pictures that show off the beauty of this city.

index index1 index2Sadly, this was not the city that the rest of the country saw last night.  Instead, the images looked like this.

index4 index3I will never understand the inner workings of someone’s mind, when they feel compelled to commit such a heinous act against people. I will never understand how taking the lives of other human beings accomplishes any kind of agenda.

Here is what I do know.  Events like what happened last night serve as a jarring reminder to all of us that evil is alive and kicking (I can’t bring myself to refer to evil as ‘well’ in any sense) in our communities.  It was encouraging to see members of the community joining hands in prayer circles around the area last night, but why do we only seem to come together like this in moments of crisis? We are too comfortable. That’s why.

Emmanuel AME Church is the oldest black church south of Baltimore in this country. I don’t want to in any way belittle the historical significance of that.  I long for the day when we stop referring to churches as ‘black churches’, ‘white churches’, and all the other labels that immediately cause stereotypical images to come up in our minds.  I’m guilty of this too and as I thought this morning I don’t understand how we have let that become acceptable.

God’s church is not a black church, a white church, a brown church, a red church, a southern church, a contemporary church, or a traditional church.  God’s church is just that……God’s church.  All of us that have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for us are family.  We are all in this thing together.  Our methods may look different sometimes, but we are all simply trying to share the love of Jesus with those around us.

What if the churches in communities came together to pray and worship, not just in the days following a crisis, but on a regular basis? What if all those stereotypical types of churches that I listed could come together regularly not to argue about whose methods are the best, but to lift up the name of Jesus in a way that celebrates the different ways that we have been created?  Do you think our communities would take notice?  I can’t help but think that they couldn’t help but take notice.

In the mean time, maybe we should all start with something that is simply dependent on us: LOVE ONE ANOTHER!! Show love to those who come across your path whether they reciprocate or not.  Show love to your neighbors.  Show love to the person behind you in line at Starbucks.  To put it simply, show the love of Jesus to others.  It’s His love, not political parties or tougher laws against crime, that breaks down the walls of hatred.

Matthew 22:36-40English Standard Version (ESV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”