Howard Thurman was valedictorian at Morehouse, a historically black men’s college, in 1923. While a student he worked as an errand boy in the university president’s office and one day a man waiting to see the president engaged him in conversation. “I am rearing my boys so that they will not hate Negroes. Do not misunderstand me. I do not love them, but I am wise enough to know that if I teach my boys to hate Negroes, they will end up hating white people as well.” Later as a theologian, pastor and civil rights leader, Thurman agreed with this man’s assessment of the power of hatred saying “Hatred cannot be controlled once it is set in motion.” *

I thought of this story in the wake of the verdict out of Minneapolis this week. Tensions were high prior to the announcement and afterwards, some of the comments of joy felt inconsistent with the good news of the Christian message. When one man dies and another goes to prison, how can there be joy for anyone? I wonder how we can reflect the passion of Jesus for peace and justice without sewing seeds of division and hatred?

Over the past year, our church board has been wrestling with this question: “How will Country Club Christian Church become a healing, constructive and transformative voice in the urgent, ongoing conversation about racism in our nation?” As part of our wrestling, last week we had a panel of leading black pastors address our board. It was an honest, challenging, inspiring conversation about how the Christian scriptures and the witness of Jesus summon us to create a world where all people are treated as those made in God’s image and likeness.

First John 4:20 reads “Those who say “ I love God” and hate their brothers and sisters are liars.”

Grace and Peace,

*Jesus and the Disinherited, 1949