The clergy and faithful of the Diocese continue to mourn the tragic losses of life, the needless acts of violence, the divisions among races, and the civil strife which plague many of our cities and countrysides.
Our Lord’s own words instruct us as to what our response to injustice, inequality, violence and hopelessness must be: “Whatever you do to the least of My brethren, you do it to Me” (Matthew 25:40), and “by this will all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:15). The Saints remind us that we are blind unless we see every human being – regardless of their differences – as made in the image, and after the likeness, of God (Genesis 1:26-27). And the Sermon on the Mount challenges us to become “peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King put it this way, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate; violence multiplies violence in a descending spiral of destruction.”
The work of establishing justice and equality, and peace and love among all peoples in our country, cannot be achieved by one-time efforts; it must be an ongoing process of change, of repentance. And some kinds of evil, according to our Savior, are only driven out “by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21).
So, I invite all of our diocesan family to join with me in a Year Dedicated to Reconciliation and An End to Civil Strife by praying and fasting on the first day of every month, beginning Wednesday, July 1: by praying the Akathist to the African Saints, and the Prayer for Racial Reconciliation (which may be downloaded here) – at 12:00 noon, and abstaining from eating lunch that day.
If you cannot pray and fast at noon on that day, then choose another meal from which to fast, and another time to pray the Akathist … or at least offer the Prayer for Racial Reconciliation, which is at the conclusion of the service, if that is all that you have time to do.
We ask the Lord to help us become instruments of peace and reconciliation … for those who truly pray and fast for this cause, cannot be at the same time instruments of hatred and violence.
May Our Lord bring an end to the strife that divides the people of this country from one another … may He make us instruments of that process … and, may He grant mercy and blessed repose to all those who have been taken from us in acts of hatred and fear. May their memory be eternal!