Wash! Be clean! Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.
In the past week, there were two news stories that when taken together reveal so much about the human condition, the reality of sin, and our deep, collective need for salvation. Both were caught on video and shared with the world.
The first story occurred Monday evening in Minneapolis. George Floyd, a 46 year-old black man, was arrested, handcuffed, and made to lay face down on the ground. A white police officer then put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer ignored Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe and his pleas for help. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital though he had no pulse when paramedics arrived on scene. This is a horrific rerun of a story we have seen many times in the United States. The lack of humanity made the video nearly unwatchable. Yet this is the lived experience for black and brown people every day in this country. It is hauntingly familiar.
The second story actually happened over Memorial Day weekend right here in Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks to be precise. Hundreds of partiers were packed into restaurants, pools, and party coves in blatant disregard for any of the social distancing guidelines that were supposed to be maintained. The video spread fast and was used as an illustration of selfishness and disregard for others. But it also prompted many to speak up in anger against what they perceive as the government infringing on their personal rights.
These two stories seem unrelated. In one example, there were millions of people, white people, decrying the injustice of a government telling them how close they can stand to others and what they must wear on their faces. Contrast that with a man being held down and killed by the excessive force of another government official, a police officer. Suddenly there is silence by many of the same people. Where are the cries (especially from white folks) about government overreach? Where are the defenders of one’s personal rights, the most basic being the right to live and breathe? Where is the outrage over perceived injustice? It is a visible reminder of the deep reality of racism and our collective ability to conveniently ignore that which we do not want to acknowledge.
I often feel powerless in the face of evils like racism. Any words can seem futile. But today, I am resolved to focus on what I can control. I’m convicted to keep exploring where racism might be hiding in my own heart. I am moved to continue to learn about the ongoing legacy of racism, how I might be contributing to it, and how I can better resist it. I am inspired to use my position to speak up and out. I am deeply aware of my need (especially as a white man in the US) to turn conviction, awareness, and learning into greater advocacy and action. As I do this work, I have found some resources to challenge me to grow in understanding and action.
These are my personal convictions. Maybe they need to be yours as well.
P.S. Before I let you go, here are a three important things I want to share:
This weekend we are adding two new online worship times at 8am and 8pm.
Wednesday, June 3 at 7pm we will host an online event to say goodbye to Pastors Yvi, Meagan, and Kelli. Tune in on our website, YouTube or Facebook.
This weekend, I am starting a new series Reset: When It’s Time to Start Again. I will be talking all about how we want to use this moment in our lives to change instead of simply returning to the old “normal.” It is a good time to invite someone to worship.