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Reflection: Silence & Repentance

Stephen, or at least the response attributed to him during a murderous stoning, possessed a level of forgiveness that in many ways goes against the pale. When I consider that all too often victims of violence, particularly Blacks and other persons of color, are asked by media pundits and others to forgive perpetrators with little regard for time to process what has occurred. Repentance by the perpetrators of mass shootings and other violent acts is rarely given consideration. Instead, what we often witness is an overreach to justify behavior that leaves families and communities grappling with the aftermath of loss, grief, and inadequate governmental action.

The response to Stephen's speech to religious leaders may be shocking to some and yet, memorials to lynching victims in the United States and other reminders of this nation's cruel and barbaric treatment to children, the incarcerated, immigrants, and the many consigned to a life of impoverishment are a constant reminder that all who call on the name of the Lord are not advocates of truth and peace.

Mob rule remains an aspect of this country's civic life that is often so intertwined with religious life that distinctions between the two are little more than rhetorical exercises. As predominantly armed white terrorists protest in capitol buildings in Michigan and other states and as one too many people use social media platforms to advance violence, may Stephen's stoning remind us that our silence in response to the church's complicity in the commodification of life in support of capitalistic gain will not save us from being accountable and responsible during this yet unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

~reflecting on Acts 7:55-60

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