Friends and Neighbors in Christ:
May the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
The Associated Press announced Monday morning that Missouri authorities were calling in the National Guard to help quell the unrest in Ferguson in response to the recent shooting and death of Michael Brown. A pending investigation will inevitably share more details which, in the end, will influence a decision about whether or not to press charges against the attending law enforcement officer who apprehended Brown in the middle of a highway. Reports indicate that Brown received six wounds, two to the head. There are calls for the officer’s arrest and the resignation of the police chief. Looking ahead, by the time this narrative and commentary is posted I am sure there will be other developments.
In the meantime, many of the townspeople of Ferguson are in an uproar and continue to demonstrate in the streets. What complicates the situation in this troubled part of the world are the signs that much of the looting and violence has been carried out by those who do not make their home in Ferguson. Whatever the case, in the midst of anger and confusion, we are watching events from a distance that remind us in many ways of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. There were peaceful demonstrations and riots in the streets all across the country. It was a volatile time of change. Sadly, nearly fifty years later, it is happening again. It seems that we continue to have a difficult time learning appropriate lessons from history.
The more I observe current events both here and far away I sometimes harbor some of the same thoughts like those of the late Robin Williams who commented how he could get up in the morning, look around, and think that the world was really in trouble and then rise other mornings and muse that, well, everything looks okay and all will be well. Every day brings its own set of surprises, some good and others not so good. As a Christian, I find it important to make sense of what is happening in the world in the context of the gospel, to appreciate the words of Jesus when he spoke about the issue of trust and who to trust, and to be a messenger of hope. The words of the Psalmist make sense to me especially in times of disorder. Whatever biases and prejudices I may have whether they be political, social or religious, I rejoice in the opportunity to re-calibrate my shortcomings by way of ancient wisdom that is often overlooked, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain me in a willing spirit” (Psalm 51).
In this time and place, may we as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, pick up our cross and pray, “O Lord, in this world filled with so much human misery and suffering, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; were there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” (Francis of Assisi: 1181-1226) This prayer is sometimes hard to pra,y much less live. And yet, in the spirit of Jesus Christ we know it can be done and should be done. Amen.
Peace and Grace,
+ Pastor Steve