A Wichita police officer, Aaron Moses, dances with a girl at community cookout. (Courtesy of A.J. Bohannon)

Nearly every morning I awake to tragic stories of violence on the news. More often than not these are stories of communities around the country rife with racial tension. Those advocating peacefully for change find their work buffeted by violence on one side and by cold indifference on the other.

What happens to Christian hope amidst these times? I mean a world-embracing, eyes-wide-open hope that resists paralysis and bury-my-head-in-the-sand fear.

Last week I had the privilege of taking part in a conference at Calvin Seminary with Richard Mouw on the topic of loving our neighbors today in a culture of fear and strife. The topics ranged from race, religious diversity, trauma and even dementia.

During the conference a friend sent me a link to an article from the Washington Post that offered a beautiful story of hope about a Black Lives Matter and police cookout that captured many of the themes in the conference. Instead of perpetuating the cycle of fear, violence and acrimony, two men, A.J. Bohannon and Gordon Ramsay, brought communities of protesters and police together to eat, dance and engage in open dialogue.

Reading this story on the heals of the conference caused me wonder, what might it look like for Christian communities to cultivate a prayerfulness that fosters what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “creative self-giving” for the good of others? The place for the Church to begin is to feed on the weight-bearing hope offered by the God who entered into the depths of human suffering in the person of Jesus and who by His Spirit groans alongside our world in pain. As we do may God grant us the courage to embody a creative self-giving by coming alongside those individuals like A.J. Bohannon and Gordon Ramsay in our cities and towns.