Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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June 17 Post

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” - Matthew 5:9

Where were you five years ago today when a young white man entered a church in Charleston, South Carolina and killed nine people gathered for Bible study? As a minister in York, Maine at the time, I remember imagining such a horror as we had just finished up our own mid-week Bible study, with another about to begin that evening.

Those of us who love the church, think of it as safe space, a Sanctuary.

Here as the church: we gather, physically or virtually, let down our guard, lay down our concerns, and get fed and nourished for the work of love ahead. Then the Holy Spirit shoos us out the door: to practice all that we’ve learned about how to make peace, to reconcile, to heal and forgive, and to engage in courageous conversations that respect differences for God’s sake and that of the world.

Recently in worship, Jesus’ promoted us from Disciples called to come and see, to Apostles sent to go and serve. He sends us out now into this challenging world as he sent his followers then, to embody the love of God in the hard places where love made flesh changes everything.

Just for today, we pause and listen to South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster who released the following statement on the five-year anniversary of the massacre:

“Five years ago, we lost nine beautiful souls at Mother Emanuel and our state was shaken by an unspeakable act of hatred and ignorance. But evil did not win the day. Love, compassion, strength, and faith – exemplified by the families of the Emanuel 9 – reigned supreme. We must not simply remember the lessons learned that day, and in the days and weeks which followed. We must carry them with us each day, recognizing that although evil and tragedy exist, the unifying effects of grace and love abound and conquer all.”

Though it may not seem so in light of this memory and the news of the day, yet God’s promises are sure. Love always wins.

Prayer: God of fierce mercy and tender compassion, stir our hearts this day, to listen deeply for your word of challenge and hope. Guide our path through this wilderness, and grant us the courage to follow your path, wherever the future may lead. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach