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1: We light a candle for lives lost—for laughter cut short, voices that will never again be heard; for hugs unraveled by death. We light a candle for a broken future—made incomplete without loved ones lost.
2: Rev. Clementa Pickney
3: Cynthia Hurd
4: Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
2: Tywanza Sanders
1: Ethel Lance
3: Susie Jackson
4: Depayne Middleton Doctor
2: Rev. Daniel Simmons
3: Myra Thompson
1: May light perpetual shine upon them.
2: We light a candle for American dreams deferred. For insufficient funds in the bank of justice…for our worst selves denying our greatest promise as a nation.
3: We light a candle for Charleston,
1: New York
3: and Ferguson—cities without innocence now known by the malignant refusal of the few to see the compounding value of all.
4: We light a candle for Dallas. Racism has grit in Dallas. Racism has claimed lives here. Racism has claimed dignity here. The swollen flow of racism through this state threatens to overflow the banks of our well-divided districts.
1: We light a candle for Dylann Roof—a shooter who was not born to kill, but pulled a trigger thirty-nine times.
4: thirty-nine times!
1: We pray that this is not the end of his story.
2: We light a candle of solidarity. We do not stand alone. We share the same light with millions who came before and many millions who walk after us on the march to a promised land yet unseen, long discussed but that already extends long arms of life and hope into our present reality.
3: We light a candle for the church.
1: The blood that now stains the wood panel floors of the church call out to God.
2: The blood that has far too often run in the streets now runs in our churches.
4: We can no longer hide behind our pulpits.
3: We light this candle to poke at privilege, speak hard truths, be less complacent as a church ablaze for the God of justice whose patience wears thin with those who ‘proclaim peace, peace when there is no peace.’
4: We light a candle for ‘Emanuel’
3: which means ‘God with us’
4: in prayer that God will, indeed, be with us in this time. God does not shy away from tragedy. God is not intimidated by bullets or bombs. God is not deterred by those who insist white privilege isn’t real. God is with us.
1: Most importantly, we light all of these candles for hope—as a sign of rebellion against the darkness that threatens to consume us. For the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, will not, can not overcome it.