Jonah 3:1-5, 10
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are enduring a spring of the deadly outbreaks of three viruses: Covid-19, racism and violence. We’re suffering from over 100,000 deaths of the coronavirus as of today, but are also becoming increasingly aware of the thousands of “silent deaths” of predominantly black and brown persons from a violent society that has never overcome its original sins of white privilege and racism. These sins have shown their face in the past few weeks in the outrageous violent deaths of unarmed black persons, as well as in several other racially fueled and demeaning incidents across our nation. People of good will all over the world are protesting; they are variously ashamed, enraged, and fearful of an uncertain future.
How did we get here?
We are a people of faith. We follow in the footsteps of one who was a member of a subjugated race in a powerful empire, unjustly accused, brutally tortured, and who suffered a grisly death at the hands of political and religious leaders who colluded to prevent his message of peace, justice and salvation from spreading. The world in which we live today is not too different from the world for which our Savior gave his life.
We worship a merciful and compassionate God, who was made manifest to us in the face of Jesus the Christ. After his resurrection, facing the very ones who betrayed him only a few days before, the first words out of his mouth were, “Peace be with you.” Ever since, his followers have vowed to seek and serve Christ in the face of every human being.
More than fifty years after the dream of Martin Luther King for a just, multiracial society of a free people living in peace, where do we go from here?
Here are a few resources to get you started. I invite you to prayerfully and carefully read the excellent statement of the Diocese of Maryland’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the present racial crisis that we’re facing. I also invite you to view and listen to my recent dialogue on racial trauma with a white member of the diocese as we try to demonstrate how to have civil and respectful conversations about race in America.
Representing the diocese, Bishop Ihloff and I will be gathering later this week with other religious leaders in Baltimore to make a public common outdoor witness for justice and peace in this troubling time. Look for more details to come as they unfold, and how you may be able to support this witness.
The Diocesan Truth and Reconciliation Committee will be extending an invitation to the diocese to participate in a dialogue on race and the impact of current events in our country, If not now, when? If not us, who? How long oh Lord, how long? Please stay tuned for more information on a date and time.
The Diocese of Maryland has made great strides in trying to repair the damage of racial injustice in our state and in our world. There is much more work to be done still…stay tuned. Will you join me in this effort for the next several years?
If not now, when? If not us, who?
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland