Every Race and Nation

2020-05-31 – Year A – Pentecost – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:24-35; John 14:8-17

  • Ahmaud Arbery – February 23 – South GA near Jeckyl Island – Went for a run and was pursued by two armed white civilians who thought he matched the description of someone who had been breaking into homes in their neighborhood. He struggled to get away from them and was shot.
  • Breonna Taylor – March 13 – Louisville, KY – Plain Clothes Narcotics officers entered her apartment with a “no-knock” warrant. Her boyfriend, scared by the presence of unidentified armed men entering his residence in the night, fired a shot in self-defense and Breonna was shot 8 times by the police officers in the conflict that ensued.
  • George Floyd – May 25 – Minneapolis, MN – Stopped by police as a suspect for a non-violent offense. Officer put him on the ground and kneeled on his neck while George repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.” He died after about 4 minutes.
  • All throughout the spring, as the Coronavirus swept through our nation, many people of Asian descent have experienced an increase of racism, aggression, and sometimes even violence with the basic theme that “the Coronavirus is your fault” and “go back home.”
  • Sometimes we may think that racism was a civil rights battle that was fought more than a generation ago. But I have many non-white friends whose daily experience is very different than mine and who express fears that I can’t imagine in my own life.
    • Fears when going for a run in their suburban neighborhoods.
    • Fears when being stopped by a police car.
    • Fears about whether their clothing looks suspicious.
    • Fears for their children, especially male children, as they grow into adults and enter a world that holds potential danger for them because of the color of their skin.
  • I’m not saying any of this in anger against the police in general. I am thankful for all of the good, law-abiding officers who regularly put themselves in harm’s way to protect and serve our communities.
    • I grieve for the families of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, and I grieve for the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
    • Police lives matter. Black lives matter. The lives of the unborn matter. All life matters because life is given by God.
  • Psalm 139:12-13
    • How could we possibly dare to look into the face of another human being, one who is fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and feel rage and hatred?
  • Pentecost – Acts 2:7-11 – Already, from the first moment of the presence of the Spirit in their lives, the Disciples were beginning to fulfill their mission to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.
  • The Gospel is for everyone of every race and nation. We are all broken sinners. We all need a savior. Our hostility towards one another can only be healed by Jesus.
  • Ephesians 2:14-16 – The sin of Racism which divides us can best be healed through the reconciliation of the cross.
  • I don’t consider myself to be racist, but I don’t think that is enough. I’m asking myself today what I can do to make a difference.
    • I can defend the vulnerable – saying something when I see something.
      • I commend to you four of our Bishops who have done just that with an open Letter Concerning the Death of George Floyd and So Many Others.
      • “What happened to George is an affront to God because his status as an image bearer [one made in the image of God] was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.”
    • I can understand a different perspective – reading books and articles by people whose cultural experience is very different from mine.
    • I can intentionally befriend someone who doesn’t look like me.
  • Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Collect for Social Justice, BCP 2019, 659)

Photo by Paul Bulai on Unsplash

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