According to the Gospel of Mark, the first words out of Jesus’ mouth are, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15)
On August 12, 2017, our nation watched the horrific images being broadcast out of Charlottesville, Virginia. White supremacists from around the country gathered at a planned rally in which Neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, Ku Klux Klansmen, and others terrorized and attacked counter-protesters. They shouted racist slogans such as “Blood and soil” (which was directly lifted from 1930s Nazi propaganda), “White lives matter!”, “You will not replace us!”, and other hateful words. They attacked counter-protesters by throwing cement filled soda cans at them, beating them with their torches, and worse. One man intentionally ran his car into a crowd of counter protesters killing one young woman and injuring 19 others. A group of clergy were trapped in a church where they were praying for peace and justice as the White supremacists surrounded the house of worship and sought to attack anyone who left the building.
After seeing such brazen hate in Charlottesville, I am left wondering what the church can practically do. What are we called to do in the face of such blatant hatred? I am still working that out a bit, but I think the first recorded words of Jesus provide some guidance. We repent and we believe.