Scripture Reading – Genesis 4:8-10
Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!
On the last day of 2020 I submitted my Full Member Doctrinal Exam to the Board of Ordained Ministry. This is the second and final round of writing required for full ordination in the United Methodist Church. In all, it took me 92 pages to answer 27 questions covering the full gamut of Christian theology, pastoral practice and my personal experience of faith.
As I watched the horrific events of the riot unfold at the Capitol on January 6th, one of the questions from the doctrinal exam kept coming to mind: What effect has the practice of ministry had on your understanding of humanity and the need for divine grace?
This is a question about the human condition and God’s provision of grace. In our passage from Genesis, we find the first murder recorded in the scriptures.
In a scene that immediately follows the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden, Abel’s innocent blood cries out to God from the ground. It did not take long for the power of sin to warp the human heart, filling that which was made for love with malice, causing Cain to rise up against his brother, striking him down.
As I watched the violence and destruction unfold at the Capitol on Wednesday, the depth of humanity’s need for divine grace is what cried out to me. How easy it is for the human heart to become filled with anger and hatred. How little it takes for a heart filled with malice to be moved to violence.
The events of January 6th should cause all of us to pause for a moment to reflect on the condition of our hearts. In such a heated and politically divisive time it is far too easy for frustration to turn into anger and for that anger to grow into hatred.
In recognizing humanity’s need for divine grace, I also recognize my own. The many frustrations of 2020 have left me with some work to do. How about you?
It is going to take a lot of grace to bring healing to our nation. That healing begins within our hearts as individual followers of Christ.
May God’s grace open our eyes to our needs and bring the healing and restoration that makes reconciliation possible.
God Bless You,