For days I’ve tossed about words, piling them up like yesterday’s newspapers. At the beginning of the week I began writing about the President’s mandate “to open up all churches, synagogues and mosques, so people can worship and pray.” Instead of writing I started yelling, “Stop acting like you’ve uttered the 11th commandment!” I kept up my rant,”We don’t need a building to pray. All over this world folks have been kneeling, moaning, and crying out their prayers to God or to anyone who’d listen. They sobbed from hospital beds, food lines, shelters of one kind or another and unemployment lines, for starters. And we don’t need a building in which to worship God, nor a set time.” For Christians, The Church is us, which is both good and bad news.”
As if I hadn’t yelled enough, I caught a second breath, which is more then over 100,000 Covid-19 victims have been able to do. I kept on shouting behind closed doors. “To some of you, my brothers and sisters in the evangelical world, as I see it, the one who ordered churches open, so we can pray, is neither our good friend nor The Church’s.”
Then came the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and my yells turned to stunned silence. As a white policeman’s knee pressed into George’s black neck I cried,”Let up! Get off him!. He’s telling you that he can’t breathe.” Then, “Dear Jesus, he’s dead.”
Watching the news, since then, has brought me back to 1968 when murder, riots, protests took our nation to a dark place. Back then, like now, The Church has both opportunity and responsibility to be Christ in this moment. We are called to “Act justly, love mercy an walk humbly with our God.”(Micah 6:8 NLT) That walk may take us to the streets, in prisons in peaceful solidarity with those who have been left behind. It must prompt us to care, share and work to end systemic racism.
Before the murder of George Floyd, there was Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and too many more. And before these recent murders, there was and still is Covid-19, disproportionately killing minorities, especially our black brothers and sisters. Add to that the economic devastation from this pandemic. We could stay on our knees forever, praying for justice. But sometimes justice demands legs more than knees, but knees are a good place to start. I’m reminded of Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee in quiet protest against injustice and police brutality. Contrast that with words tweeted from the President, “When the looting starts the shooting starts.”
If any of you are still reading, I need to state the obvious. Not all who serve on police forces are brutal or corrupt. We are not called to repay evil with more evil. Justice and vengeance are not synonyms. Vengeance is selfish. Justice is sacrificial. Most policemen and women are ones we can safely call on for help. They, like firemen risk their lives, daily. We need them.
So now what? I’m still puzzling how to respond in times like these. Maybe I need to re-read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 to see what matters to Christ. I just did and read, “God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for justice…God blesses those tho are merciful..God blesses those who work for peace…and God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers.”
There’s been a lot of lying going on in this country. I wish it was because we were being too much like Jesus for folks to handle the truth. So back to how I started this week, trying to find some words. Well, I’ve found more than my usual allotment. I try to keep the blog to around 300 words. It’s like “I’m writing and I can’t shut up!”
Well, if you’re like I feel, sick of words, I’ll be concise in my plan of action.
- Pray. It matters.
- Look in the mirror, Jan, to find the nearest racist. It’s systemic. I pray to become anti-racism and for an old white lady that won’t be easy.
- Wear a mask. It’s not political. It’s one way to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
- Vote for people and issues that promote justice and do good “to the least of these.” They are the ones Jesus identifies with.
Back to where I started. We, The Church, are called to be First Responders, for Christ’s sake. For more than 2000 years we’ve done so in fits and starts, but, thankfully, have never stopped trying to “love God and our neighbors as we love ourselves.” I just want to be one of Jesus’ faithful, courageous ones, not somebody hiding out yelling at a TV screen or writing more than anyone needs to read.
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