A PRAYER FOR FERGUSON (AND THE REST OF US)
MANY OF YOU
have asked for a transcript of the bit about Ferguson we concluded with at the service in Manhattan today.
The transcript is below, along with the prayer.
Good morning, everyone.
I was reminded late on Friday night as I crossed through a massive protest working it’s way down Broadway in front of our offices that this Ferguson thing is still fresh in many of our minds.
I don’t really know how I can begin a series this morning on Jesus and his coming into the world to heal it, without taking a few moments to address all that’s gone on in these past few days with things in our country.
I asked a black friend of mine what business someone like me even had addressing this this topic morning.
This is, verbatim what I texted him.
"Hey man- any guidance you have on what to say on Sunday about Ferguson? I have to be honest. I know it needs spoken of, but I'm an upper middle class white guy who will go to brunch after church and talk about 'white-people- problems.' My heart is shredded over the news reports and I honestly don't even know where to begin. I'm numb."
He responded by saying. “You should say more of that.”
So I will. I’d like to briefly share what’s going on in my mind because its weighing on my conscience. You don’t have to agree with me this morning. This is a community of brilliant, independent minds, but If you are a follower of Jesus, you are bound by a system of belief and practice where there is, “neither Jew, nor Greek, nor slave, nor free.”
This is the way of the true God behind the world. When we see people divide, and subtract, and fight against one another, we are not seeing God at work. What we are seeing are human inventions.
There is no doubt in my mind (now more than ever) that there’s still a very real pandemic of racism in our country.
I mourn with my black brothers and sisters this morning who are (again) coming to the painful realization that, even with all of our progress as a nation in matters of racial reconciliation, we still have light years to travel.
I mourn with those of my own race who find ourselves having lost hope again, sitting in front of our laptops and television screens watching the wire reports thinking to ourselves, "Why is it still like this? My God, what is wrong with us?"
To all of us who are committed to racial reconciliation in this country, we have not failed. We are just feeling the tiredness that comes from standing up in the middle of a mighty, muddy, rushing river that has been rushing around us for much longer than any of us have been alive.
It is in times like these that we can feel forced to pick a side, or where we can reach down into something deeper. We can continue to side with those who make the loudest, most violent noises, or we can, as Jesus so beautifully taught us, trump all of the volume by loving our neighbor.
It all comes down to the individual in the end. It’s where every transgression of race begins, and where every wound is healed. It is in how I treat my neighbor- the neighbor who is so different from me.
We are surrounded by these “neighbors” at all times. In our homes. On trains. In elevators. And each time we fail to treat someone of another race as equally as we do our own, we are not being lived through by the Holy Spirit of God. Living with racial preferences is not of God, and it prolongs the problem.
I know that may sound like a generalization, but it’s true.
Abraham Lincoln, whose administration made the practice of slavery illegal in this country, once said:
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.” -Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the Untied States
My prayers are with the Brown family. My prayers are with the U.S. legal system. My prayers are with our church, and others, and with our city- praying that we dig down deep and hear the heart of God for all humans who are all made from the same blood- that we would base all of our actions on that love.
I am hopeless when I see stuff like this in the news, but I go to God in hope that he will reach people from deep within, as I mirror that hope in my own actions to people who are different than me.
These two things, coupled together make that very “long arc” that Dr. King spoke of, just a bit shorter. Much shorter still, the more of us who live this way.
Anyway, would you pray with me this morning? And then we’ll get into our message.
God, forgive us for every time we make an issue out of the color of someone’s skin.
Forgive us for the times where we recognize our distinctions to divide instead of to unite.
Forgive us for so often seeking to be understood instead of to understand.
We pray for our nation during yet, another season of racial turmoil. We pray for our leaders. We pray for families. We pray for our churches. We pray for our schools. We pray for our government.
May we be guided by a loving justice for all people.
People that you love, in a world that you sent your Son to restore, and reconcile, to make our distinctions marks of our beauty.