As we await a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin

My father-in-law, the Rev. John Marshall Haynes, was an Episcopal priest. He had a strong influence on my own vocation to the priesthood. Before he became a priest, however, Fr. Haynes was an attorney. With a name like “John Marshall,” perhaps that was inevitable! The day that he was licensed to argue cases before the United States Supreme Court, the decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education was also handed down; and Fr. Haynes had the opportunity to be in the courtroom for that momentous occasion. Like most attorneys, he had a commitment to the concept of justice and was hopeful that his commitment to this kind of advocacy would usher in the kind of justice that the world needed. However, because courts of law are human institutions, they could not produce the ideal kind of justice that John Marshall Haynes and others like him aspired to…a kind of justice that rolls down like waters to produce peace. In the end, Fr. Haynes answered a second vocation – to become a priest and to become an advocate for peace.

We have been watching the courts in Minneapolis and awaiting a verdict. We are all hoping for a verdict that will produce both justice and peace. The reality, however, is that no matter what the verdict, there will be no peace. No matter what the verdict, for some it will represent justice, for others it will represent a miscarriage of justice. There will be no peace because, truthfully, our courts are not capable of decreeing peace. Courts adjudicate the law but do not broker peace.

As Christians, however, we are called to broker peace. If we want to become children of God, then we must work diligently and tirelessly for the peace of God to prevail. Does this mean that we accept miscarriages of justice? Does this mean that we submit to actions that we find offensive or damaging to other human beings? No, if we want justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream, then we are exhorted to confront those things which divide us as humans and thwart the healing reconciliation of God. But we should never forget that the action that we take should be rooted and grounded in the Peace of Christ which passes all understanding. We are all called to efforts at peace and justice, but our efforts must unite all to the heart of Christ and not separate us from one another.

We’re waiting on the verdict, and while we wait, we should pray. We should pray that God will be shaping us to be His children – the peacemakers.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(Prayer attributed to St. Francis)

+Bishop Susan Haynes