I was standing in line with an eclectic group of people and one gentleman’s uniqueness stood out more than most. He was at least 6-foot-8 and had the girth to match. But what drew everyone’s attention to him was not necessarily his size, but what he was wearing. Propped atop his head was a Green Bay Packers hat and covering his mid-section was a Minnesota Vikings sweatshirt.
It was inevitable that some gregarious person would inquire, “So, I’m curious – whose side are you on?” The giant of the man smiled, looked at the man who asked the question, and said with clear conviction, “I like football!” Inside the noisy store and in our little circle, a reflective silence fell. It was as if our non-collective response said, “Well, you can’t argue with that.”
After I checked out and as I began to walk to my car, I found myself deeply pondering the exchange at the register. I had been musing most of the day about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, and this last encounter just pulled me even further into my own prayerful contemplation.
We live in an unjust world. And consequently, we live in a very divided world. This is not new for humanity. Our history (including our Biblical narrative) is filled with incredible accounts of how we have not only treated each other, but entire groups of people. Yet God’s mission through it all has never wavered: redemption, reconciliation, healing, and wholeness. This is the mission that God invites us to bring our gifts to. This is what we commit ourselves to in baptism:
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
It will only be when we fully live out our Baptismal Covenant by using the gifts that God has given us, that we will be fully participating in God’s mission to bring forth the redemption, reconciliation, healing, and wholeness our world so desperately needs.
Our Native American brothers and sisters have modeled well for us that it begins with listening to the stories of others. We need to hear the stories of those who have been oppressed, those who have been treated unjustly, and those who have suffered abuse. And then we need to act. We need to begin the heavy lifting of making the deep systemic changes that will impact every aspect of our common life. Until we all commit to this, God’s mission will not be realized.
Let us truly commit ourselves to God’s mission, let us truly commit ourselves to live out our Baptismal Covenant, let us truly commit to ending all forms of injustice. With “God’s help” we can bring forth redemption, reconciliation, healing, and wholeness.
Here are a few links I have found to be helpful:
Presiding Bishop’s Statement on the Way Forward From Ferguson
Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith’s Statement on Ferguson, Missouri
A Reflection on the Recent Incidences in Ferguson, Missouri from The Rt. Rev. Nathan D. Baxter
Discussion Questions for Adults and and Youth Available on the Ferguson Decision
Self-Segregation: Why It’s So Hard for Whites to Understand Ferguson
New Orleans Saints’ Benjamin Watson’s Facebook Post on the Ferguson Decision
A Way Forward: Reflections, Resources & Stories Concerning Ferguson, Racial Justice & Reconciliation
A Way Forward: Share Your Story
Voices: Stories From Our Church
Practices: Communities Respond