Sunday, we heard about how people are still living amidst the storms of life and in their aftermath.
Last night the Grand Jury decision came out in the Ferguson, Missouri case. Darren Wilson is not to be charged – and whether you are invested in this case and pleased or disappointed, or whether this is the first time you have heard of it, there are people reeling in the midst of this storm.
From Sunday’s Matthew 25 text, how do we as people called by God to care for the hungry, the thirsty, naked, imprisoned, and stranger help bring a piece of the Kingdom of God amidst this living hell for local police, city officials, shop owners, and for communities of people of color?
We could start by looking at where this brokenness came from:
In our nation, there is still racial tension. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities of America and where I spent three of the last four years of my life. As a student at LSU, I witnessed the tension between folks who felt the confederate battle flag was appropriate to be waved at football games and people who felt it was a symbol of oppression and slavery and were tired of it being rubbed in their faces.
My understanding is that the protests, ranging from peaceful to riotous, in Ferguson and throughout the United States were a response to this racial tension. When I was in Chicago, the University of Chicago’s police department was undergoing a review for disproportionately stopping Black students, especially males. New Orleans Police of my native state of Louisiana have been called into question for abusing their power against minority people quite a few times in my life. My understanding is that Ferguson residents have seen similar abuses towards them as people of color and it has led to the visible tension unleashed nationwide last night.
This racial tension is a divider of country and has led to Sunday morning being the most segregated time of the week. It hurts us Christians as we build up the Kingdom of God and care for the downtrodden.
Now, there may be folks in the next few days – or even today – that make you feel guilty as a white person for what happened in Ferguson, or even the racism that exists in our country. You weren’t there. I also know the same racist tension that built up to lead to last night’s events started as much more innocent comments and even poor humor that has transferred racism from parent to child for centuries.
In two days, people of our nation will gather around the kitchen table with family and eat and laugh and give thanks to God. As you gather, could you remember that we are all in God’s image and that the jokes that are told across table tops influence the next generation and contribute to the tension Ferguson and our nation is now reeling with? If someone tells a joke that is in poor taste, ask them to stop. Building the Kingdom of God in the aftermath of the storm may be as simple as that as we pray for those still caught up in it.