My dear Siblings in Christ Jesus,
“Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.” – “The Catechism” in The Book of Common Prayer, page 848.
The reality of human sin has been brought home again with the murders in Atlanta and Boulder. These are horrific acts.  With anti-Asian rhetoric and violence, the riots last year in some cities, and the insurrection at the Capitol Building in January, we have been given stark reminders of the human sin. It seems that the language of hate and acts of violence are now just part of living in the United States. The murder of innocent people by individuals with assault weapons has become common place. Such sin is both corporate and individual.
In my years as Bishop, I have had to, all too often, preach and write in the aftermath of gun violence, and in response to hate speech and racist attacks. As Christians, we know that words and deeds go together. The normalization of anger, hate, and fear leads to hurtful words and violence.
As the followers of Christ, what are we to do?
I think it natural to grieve. The reality of all human suffering is our suffering. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote (in Letters and Papers in Prison): “We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” Compassion is basic to our faith. “May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) Yet again, after Atlanta and Boulder, we are left in sadness and called to comfort one another. We must not lose our compassion in which we share in the suffering of others. 
And then what?
As Episcopalians, I think we can turn to the reminders of our way of life in the Baptismal Covenant. Remember the five practical affirmations in the Baptismal Covenant (The Book of Common Prayer, pages 304-305). You’ll remember that they come just after the theological affirmations in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. We answer the practical questions with the answer: “I will, with God’s help.” We must consider what we are affirming in light of the painful events of our time. What do we promise?
First, we promise “to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers”.  Our faith in Christ is experienced, nurtured and shared in community – the Church. It happens through Scripture with the stories of God, Christ Jesus and the people of faith, the Sacraments, prayer, and the gathering itself. One cannot be a Christ follower without others. In fact, it is through and with the community that we come to know and experience the life of the risen Christ. In this limited and broken humanity, we need one another in the Church. In times of crisis and in the wake of evil, the community, Scripture and prayer sustain us.
Second, we promise to “persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever, you [I] fall into sin, repent, and return to the Lord”. We don’t stop being limited and sinful at our Baptism. We are still on our way. Being nurtured in the loving fellowship of Christ and through Scripture and prayer, we know when we blow it. We seek forgiveness and, more importantly, a changed life and a “new creation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:17: “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!”). In the language of the absolution in the Penitential Order I (The Book of Common Prayer, page 321), we seek genuine change: “The Almighty and merciful Lord grant you absolution and remission of all your sins, true repentance, amendment of life, and the grace and consolation of his Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The need for reflection, repentance and amendment of life is a corporate reality as well as an individual one. Systemic racism, greed and violence have societal causes and corporate ramifications. Individuals are harmed and do the harm, but the environment and the culture add to the evil. We look to ourselves, others and society as a whole.
That leads us to the third practical affirmation when we promise to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” Do we truly believe that we are a “new creation” in Christ Jesus? I often think this is the key question in the Baptismal Covenant because this connects to what we profess to how we live in ordinary times. As the Letter of James (2:18) notes: “Someone might claim, ‘You have faith and I have action.’ But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.” It is often in the ordinary that we can forget who we are as Christ believers. This is grounded in the basic belief that God loves me. With Paul (Romans 8:38-39), we can the affirm that God’s love changes the way we engage life: “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”
That in turn changes how we care for other people. As we promise in the fourth practical affirmation, we will “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your [my] neighbor as yourself [myself]”. We know from Jesus’ parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) that “neighbor” means everyone. The difficulty here is that the victims of the shooting and the perpetrators are by definition “our neighbors.” The hateful and the hated are God’s children. I found a sermon from Martin Luther King, Jr., to be most helpful in this regard ("Loving Your Enemies," Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, on November 17, 1957):