“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
“We live in a broken and sinful world. The Holy Spirit gives us courage to pray without ceasing, to witness among all people to Christ as Lord and Savior, to unmask idolatries in Church and culture, to hear the voices of peoples long silenced, and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.” (A Brief Statement of Faith, 1983)
Just a matter of months ago most of us may have been unaware that a Ferguson, Missouri, a community of over 21,000 residents, even existed. Now, all of us know because of the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. Brown, an eighteen year old black man, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. A family grieves a loved one. A man lives in hiding not knowing what the future holds. With the decision from the grand jury to not indict the police officer, the streets of downtown of Ferguson continue to swell with residents, outsiders, reporters, and members of the National Guard as protests and demonstrations have erupted into civil unrest and violence. Buildings have burned, businesses looted, stores boarded up, and shots fired. The local economy has been adversely effected and the real estate market is in severe decline. Some are considering the option of moving away. As events continue to unfold in Ferguson, we ponder where we are as a nation in terms of race relations, law enforcement, and the issue of poverty, all sensitive subjects. As Christians, what are we to make of this and how do we respond?
Current events constantly remind us that life is tough and often confusing as we try to understand and make sense of things. Living in a world that is volatile and often violent, Henri Nouwen once shared the perspective that in addition to our love for Jesus Christ we have the task as Christians to articulate faith in God’s real presence as we respond to personal struggles, family conflicts, national calamities, and international tensions. In the Name of Jesus, we have to say “no” to every form of fatalism and defeatism, and offer an enduring word of hope especially in the times and places it might not appear to make sense. (In the Name of Jesus)
Scripture reminds us that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. (The Book of Ecclesiastes) With respect to Ferguson, maybe this is a good season and appropriate time to turn again to the wisdom of the Beatitudes. And Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.” Maybe this is also a good season to lift our hearts and pray not only for the people of Ferguson, but also for ourselves as we are called to live as responsible people in our own little corner of the world. And the prayer goes like this: “Lord, give me the courage to change the things I can, the peace to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.” In addition, maybe this is a time to employ the grace of self-examination and repent any lack of zeal to bear witness to the good news of the gospel whether by word or deed. Maybe this is the season to search for ways that help bring change to a society and culture where there is a lack of trust, respect, and civility towards others and a time to consider how we truly participate in God’s mission of compassion, reconciliation, justice, and peace. May the church be the church in this time of crisis and human need as she proclaims the word and wisdom of Jesus Christ, “This I command you: To love one another.” The work continues. Amen.
+ Pastor Steve