Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Tragedies like Charlottesville can make one wonder if all of the marches and the sit-ins, the placards and the yard signs, the preaching and the statements issued have made any difference at all. The depth of some people's hate, and their pure ignorance of their fellow human beings can leave you speechless.
Then we have an event like Harvey that strikes at people across all categories: Black and White, Asian and Hispanic, rich and poor, young and old, liberal and conservative, Jewish and Christian, Muslim and atheist, even dogs and cats. While some may be wondering how God could allow something like this to happen; it is, at the same time, inspiring to see the response of neighbors and total strangers. People across the country have started to donate everything from money to blood. [We will have our own water drive.] Some have gotten their boats and headed to Texas to help in the search and rescue of both people and pets.
Yet, there are still people out there who are filled with hate. Their hearts are not only hard, but small and dark. Many of them simply want to blame their own failings and short-comings on others. But you know what church, these people are the true "minority." The truth is, we have made progress. In terms of Racism, we may still have a long way to go because it is so deeply rooted in our society and it is reinforced daily by the media, our legal system, the job market, and even how our city is laid out. But when tragedies occur, whether they are man-made or natural, people are startled out of their complacency. They are forced to take a hard look at their own beliefs, and to take stock of their own privileges and blessings.
There may be dark days, but there are far more sunny ones. There may still be ignorant people filled with hate, but there are more of us who earnestly try to love our neighbor. We cannot ignore those dark days, but we should be sure to celebrate the sunny ones. Yesterday, I took some time to watch the news. Instead of the usual frustration, it was filled with stories of neighbor helping neighbor, and stranger helping stranger. People working to exhaustion in their efforts to help people they do not know. In the middle of tragedy and despair, one could see hope born of love and faith. Church, we must refuse to allow hate to define us. As Rev. Dr. MLK said, "Darkness cannot extinguish light."
Our own past here on the corner of Cook & Grand has not always been very Christian. There was a time when many of your ancestors were barred from entering this House of God. While the Redemptorists ran a separate chapel, it was still separate and far from equal. There have been men living in the rectory that I have been ashamed to call my fellow Redemptorists. But Friday night we are going to gather to celebrate the triumph of Light over darkness. We are going to come together to joyfully celebrate that Unity overcame division. We are going to come together to remember where we came from, but more importantly where we are! ...and where we are going! For the truth is, only a short distant from the "Delmar Divide" sits a community of Black & White, of rich & poor, of Democrat & Republican that gathers every Sunday to worship their one God! For the Light continues to shine bright, and the darkness has not overcome it. For love trumps hate every time and in every way. I am truly looking forward to seeing many of you on Friday and to celebrate what The Rock has become! ...what it means to so many! ...and what it stands for! ...here on the corner of Cook & Grand.
In the Redeemer,
Fr Rick Potts