“Grace is power, not just pardon.”
In June of 2015, Emanuel AME Church and the city of Charleston lost 9 innocent people who had opened their church and their hearts to a stranger. Much has been said about the perpetrator of the crime, but in my opinion the real story is the grace with which the members of the church and the people of our city reacted to this horrific act.
“Grace is a gift of the humble to the humiliated.”
Charles R. Swindoll
Rather than react with violence, or demand an eye for an eye, the members of the church spoke about forgiveness. They spoke about their love of God, and the strength that they as a community would draw from that love. They honored their loved ones with generous gifts in their names to those in need. They refused to close their doors to increase their safety. Rather than turn their backs on their God they prayed harder and believed just as fervently. In similar circumstances, could you have done the same?
“Humor and paradox are often the only ways to respond to life’s sorrow with grace.”
The people of our genteel city responded in kind. Rather than protest marches they held prayer vigils. Rather than divide us along racial lines the tragedy united us. Outside agitators left empty-handed, and the president of the United States led the congregation in a spontaneous performance of Amazing Grace.
Here in Charleston we have been inundated with news of the resulting trial and conviction of the perpetrator. I will be happy to see the story end and the lives of the victims’ families return as much as possible to normal. Rest assured, there is work still to be done in our fair city to further the cause of equality – but nothing we can do will surpass the spirit and grace of Emanuel AME.