"United Methodist Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr. cited The United Methodist Church's Book of Discipline: "We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. ... For this reason we oppose the death penalty (capital punishment) and urge its elimination from all criminal codes." (from the UMNS Daily Digest - October 1, 2015)
I am thinking how proud I am of our United Methodist Church and our Candler School of Theology for standing up for what is maybe troublesome to some, but what is right in the eyes and heart of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am thankful for professors and students who helped bring redemption and new life to one broken and lost. I am proud of our pastors when they stood in solidarity and in prayerful peace to protest a wrong in our society and in our state. I am proud of all who took a moment and wrote the governor of Georgia to express their feelings and understandings regarding this issue of the death penalty. I am most thankful that Kelly Renee Gissendaner was able to sing the words of Issac Watts, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, once was blind but now I see." God's own received into God's open and forgiving arms.
Yes, my friends our work is not in vain, even if only one person finds the grace of Almighty God. Our work is not in vain if only one bad idea is eradicated from our society because the love of God is stronger. Our work is not in vain if even one person learns to love another person who is different from them. Our work is not in vain if even one who is angry finds peace and the power to forgive.
We are not called to success but to faithfulness. We are not called to judge but to forgive and to give mercy and grace. We are not called to be suspect but to believe the best in all people and that God can do anything in the lives of God's children. We are called to love one another and to lay our lives down for each other.
My faith tells me that Kelly Gissendaner was freed into the presence of the One whom is ever more ready to redeem than we are to do the hard and risky work of change. Yes, you and I must continue the work of changing the wrong by loving others to an understanding of power of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sustainer. We must do this by all peaceful and loving means as possible, for as Dr. Martin Luther King stated, "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy ... Children of God have strength, Children of God have courage, risk to make a change, no longer an eye for an eye because we are too blind as it is to see the truth. Rise up and take a risk and let us show forth the love of God to all people for the world IS our parish.
Praying for our world, our nation, and our state for a God-inspired change,