As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we pause before this impossible pain.
We were not here then; we were not alive; we did not know; we were never taught.
We do not want to face what those few days meant to so many people: those who lost their lives and grieved loved ones, those who were injured, those whose homes and businesses were destroyed, those who never returned.
How could hatred be that powerful? How could that destruction have happened so close by?
So many of those who stirred up violence felt justified in what they did. They believed they were protecting their homes and families.
But they were wrong. Every human being is a child of God. The color of our skin does not make us enemies. Sin, oppression, and distortions of God’s word lead us to hatred and fear.
Sometimes it makes us feel more powerful and safer to have someone else to blame, to scapegoat, for all the woes that we face.
But God calls us to humility and to truth – to see our own failings and to extend grace to each other just as God has been gracious to us.
We did not know; we were never taught – but we are learning now.
We are learning to hear what we would rather avoid, to love where it is difficult, to start to repair what had been hidden away.
We will make missteps; we will fall into old habits; it is hard to take a new path.
But we have heard the voices of pain that were muffled for a century, and we will not turn away.
Merciful God, heal the wounded hearts of generations that still bear scars from this horror. Unravel every racist thought and thread that persists in this land. Help us seek unity that honors every voice so that we may all walk forward together. Amen.
Image credit: “Burning of Church where Amunition [sic] Was Stored – During Tulsa Race Riot, 6-1-21,” creator unknown.