Brothers and sisters,
We are in the midst of one of the most troubling periods in American history. I have not witnessed this level of collective anger and grief during my lifetime. I have deliberately been silent because there are no words to express how I feel in the depths of my soul. Over the past week, I have experienced anger, shock, fear, grief and a profound sadness. All of these emotions are still present.
As a person of faith, I look to the Bible and our Book of Common Prayer for guidance during trying times. The promises we make as part of our baptismal covenant are guiding principles for my life. To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself. To strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. This is what a life of faith looks like because it is what Jesus modeled. It isn’t easy but it is something to which I aspire. However, one reason my heart is troubled is because I perceive these sacred promises being ignored, rejected and mocked.
The nation’s collective heart is full of disease. 400 years of terror inflicted upon persons of African descent have not evoked a sense of compassion among many well-meaning Americans. Others have also been denied the full stature of their humanity – Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, women, poor whites, members of the LGBTQ community. The protests we are witnessing aren’t just about the death of George Floyd – they are a collective cry of pain after generations of mistreatment. Instead of seeing everyone in the community as members of the body of Christ, of listening to the laments of the least, the lost and the lonely, too often people who claim to follow Christ turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. If our hearts aren’t broken by the horrific video of George Floyd’s dying breath, I fear that nothing can penetrate the barriers we have constructed. How can we prevent our hearts from becoming encapsulated in an impenetrable fortress of our own construction?
I believe in the power of prayer. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit now more than ever. She calls us to get up off of our knees and take action to address the hardness of our hearts. There is no single solution to this pandemic infecting our souls. I stand ready to partner with persons who believe we can be better than this because none of us can accomplish this work on our own. Please join me in finding ways to make a difference in our country.
The Rt. Rev. Phoebe Roaf