June 8, 2020
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait on the Lord. (Psalm 31:24)
[Image: Thornton Dial, “The Last Day of Martin Luther King” (1992), wood, carpet, rope carpet, wire screen, metal pans, broken glass, and broom]
Two weeks. America has experienced a seismic shift in just two weeks. Since the death of George Floyd two weeks ago today, national fretting over the pandemic has been displaced by an electrifying, and growing, recognition of how the militarization of the police in this country has been wreaking havoc for generations on the principle of justice that Christians understand to be the societal expression of God's love.
Powerful voices are emerging from the ongoing series of protests. Author Kimberly Jones tweeted last night that "I'm in a surreal universe where my everyday rant has reached the world." We are being shocked into the awareness of American policing as a firmly entrenched system of systemic racism in which the roots of white supremacy run deep. These were John Oliver's words from his show last night. The episode takes a hard look at how these attitudes are shaped that will take your breath away. You can find it on YouTube.
Glorifying violence is about the worst thing, societally, that one can do. These protests are not that. They are a rolling earthquake, or a prolonged eruption, whose seismic force is the anguish of black Americans over patterns gross injustice. The protests are visible expressions of Psalm 31:24. In fact, the entire first part of Psalm 31, a prolonged lament, can be read in this same light. "Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble; my eye is consumed with sorrow, and also my throat and my belly" (verse 9). "Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me" (verse 4). "Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me" (verse 2).
Deliverance, even just incrementally, is already happening. Yesterday a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to dismantle the police department with the promise to create a new plan to ensure the safety of communities. "For activists who have been pushing for years for drastic changes to policing, the move represented a turning point that they hoped would lead to a complete transformation of public safety in the city," one report read, quoting a community leader: “'It shouldn’t have taken so much death to get us here. We’re safer without armed, unaccountable patrols supported by the state hunting black people.'”
We are still waiting on the Lord. But as we know, waiting is an active state, not a passive one. Let our lives be visible expressions of God's righteousness in whatever patterns of activity the Spirit calls us to assume.
Yours in the hope of Christ,
Pastor Nancy Raabe