While I was driving this morning through the city, I noticed a crime scene taped off on a side road, and the body of a murdered black man laying lifelessly in the middle of it. Whether it was done with a gun, a knife, or a fist, it does not matter. It does not matter whether it was a dope deal gone wrong, a vengeance killing, or just indiscriminate violence. The fact is that someone’s son is dead, or perhaps even worse, some child’s father. No one should find that normal. Jesus certainly didn’t. When he wept in agonizing prayer—when he stood sobbing at the tomb of his friend, or wept with pain at the stubborn hostility of Jerusalem, it was toward the brutality of death, and the violence that creates it, that his passionate hatred and heartfelt sorrow were directed.
Jesus is the confrontational love of the Father. He is the delivering and healing hope of future peace. He is paradigmatic for Christian faithfulness, and his injunctions are non-negotiable. If Jesus is the incarnation of God’s peaceful presence in the midst of the chaos and horror of human bloodshed, then his death—the way that he absolutely refused to employ violence or enjoin his followers to use the same, even in a moment of extraordinary injustice, should be programmatic for the way that the Church incarnates God’s future today. Let us be a people characterized by the refusal to confront violence with the very methods that bring it about: bombs, knives, fists, guns—let us extinguish the cyclical violence that has infected our cities by assuming the cruciformity of sacrificial love. And may God be ever merciful to grant us grace for the paradox of enemy-love that our sons and fathers be murdered no more.
O God who art the Author of peace, and lover of Concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternall life, whose service is perfect freedom : defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies, that we surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any Adversaries through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 1662 BCP, “Collect for Peace”