Dear Grace and St Peter’s,
It has been a challenging week for all of us. Wildly disturbing, almost unimaginable scenes play across our computer screens and televisions. Burning cities; broken windows; bystanders, protestors and police being injured and killed; police violently dispersing peaceful protestors; national leaders calling for military action against their own citizens. You know all that and I know you are as troubled as I am.
So, let’s take a break from discouragement and look in a different direction. Let’s look at the sheriff in Michigan who, in his words, turned a “protest into a parade” by joining, along with his officers, in a peaceful march for justice for George Floyd and people of color everywhere. Let’s look at police officers around the country kneeling in solidarity with those who decry the inequities of our social, legal and economic structures.
Let’s look at people in Germany, England, Canada, Brazil and around the world marching together with those in the United States calling for real accountability and real change to our imbalanced judicial system. Closer to home, let’s look at the New Haven Police Department publicly denouncing police brutality and the Connecticut State Troopers who joined hands in prayer with protestors who blocked traffic on I-84.
There is so much good will in our communities and in our country. This is the time and the season for change, as Reverend Al Sharpton said this afternoon in his eulogy for George Floyd, riffing off the third chapter of Ecclesiastes. I pray that the vandalism, looting and burning stop. At the same time, I pray that the current impassioned call for justice and transformation in our society does not end until real change takes place.
During George Floyd’s funeral, Reverend Sharpton asked everyone present and all of us at home to stand in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that Officer Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. People around the world stood and waited. 8 minutes and 46 seconds is a long time: plenty of time for anyone to change their mind about almost anything; plenty of time for someone to see injustice and say, “Stop doing that!”
Now, imagine 400, even 500 or more years. Half a millennium in North America during which people of color, children of God every one, have had a knee constantly on their neck. That’s a really, really long time. It’s time for all of us to say, “Stop!” Let the people live. Let the people flourish as God intended.
Please reach out to one another, especially to those who may feel particularly vulnerable at this time. Listen to one another, share with one another, pray for one another, love one another.
I keep all of you, our families, our friends and our neighbors near and far in my prayers.
Peace be with you,