As a kid, I couldn't have told you who Absalom Jones was. I couldn’t have told you he was one of the earliest priests in our church, the first man born into slavery and the ordained. I could tell you about a whole bunch of white men. I could list many of the presidents who were Episcopalian... Don't settle for a partial history, because sometimes you need the saints you didn't learn about in school.
There has been a great deal of debate in our nation over the last week and a half. Some folks said, in the wake of the attack, "this is NOT who we are." Other folks, including a number of my friends who are involved with the Black Lives Matter movement said no, "this is EXACTLY who we are." We could debate the meaning and merits of the arguments until we are blue in the face. I think a bigger question is at stake. "Is this who we want to be?"
I've heard a lot of talk this week about the need to work for "peace." I've heard a number of elected officials and church leaders call for reconciliation. I'm not praying for either of those yet. I'm not. One of the prayers our Prayer Book asks God to help us “fearlessly contend against evil and make no peace with oppression.” I’m not praying for reconciliation. I'm praying for conversion. I believe we need conversion before we can talk about peace.