Marsha, Kathryn Peters, and I traveled to Springfield, TN to see the total eclipse in August. Springfield is north and west of Nashville and we were out in the country north of the city. Near where we were staying was a church and we sought permission to watch the eclipse from their parking lot. The pastor’s family welcomed us along with a mother and college aged son from New York City and a family from northern Mississippi. We shared in conversation, laughter, music, and watermelon. Then we reached totality. In awe we sat around looking at the ring of the sun’s corona visible around the moon. As we watched, the moon continued it journey through space and a small bit of the sun appeared and the ring of light was turned into a ring with a bright gem on the ring. These words pale in the effort to describe the event. All of us were overwhelmed by the experience. We were united with generations past who looked to the sky in fear due to the onset of night in the afternoon of the day. We witnessed an event displaying the amazing work of God.

In August, we were all able to watch the overwhelming experience of the dismaying work of human beings. We witnessed the destructive energy of hatred released in Charlottesville, VA. Groups with a history of hatred toward anyone who looks or believes differently than they do, gathered in VA and expressed their views that some of or brothers and sisters are less deserving than those marching. Nazism is destructive and antithet-ical to our faith. The KKK claims to be Christian, yet espouses the belief that anyone not “white” deserve to be second to themselves. Historically, the KKK is a homegrown terrorist group by the modern definitions used to-day.

How do we as Christians respond to these groups? Do we take to the streets to physically battle against them? Do we declare war on them? NO!

We should stand in opposition to these groups. But we should be standing in loving opposition. Not with hateful language of the Neo-Nazis, the KKK, the Alt-Right but with the language of faith. The faith that pray-ers for those who hate. The language that speaks love for everyone, especially if they do not look or sound like the rest of us. The language of Jesus who told us to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to forgive too many times to count, the language that led to the Cross.

As Christians we should stand between those who hate and those whom the hate groups see as tar-gets. We will teach love to overcome the hatred they learned during their lives.

The excuse for all of this was centered around the removal or destruction of statues of Southern Civil War leaders. The Civil War represents the story of Cain and Abel played out on a national level. We fought be-cause some had repented of their sin of buying and selling human beings and others had not. I am aware of the “State’s Rights” argument. But it was the focus on the State Right to own human beings to provide the workforce to compete with the industrial states. This is not to say that these statues should be destroyed. It means they should be utilized as a national lesson of the price that was paid for the decision to see people of color property, not brothers and sisters. This lesson should reflect upon the history of this nation even before it became a nation and include who we failed to see our brothers and sisters who lived here before Europeans arrived. We must acknowledge the sin of the prideful belief that my way is superior to any other way that I don’t like or understand.

We, as Christians believe in love and forgiving grace. We must not limited this practice to our words, but put them to work in our lives.

Shalom, Darrell