Dec. 2, 2014
What does peace look like to you? The Hebrew prophets had a vision of what peace looks like to the divine eye. Jesus’ view of peace was very much in focus with the prophet’s view. It looks like the Day of the Lord, when the wolf lies down with the lamb, when the lowly are raised up and the powerful brought low, when the hungry will be filled with good things and the rich are sent away empty handed. The Biblical view of peace is unlike the way any Hallmark card depicts it.
It is a challenge to look for peace in turbulent times, but when has human history not been turbulent. The prophets give us glimpses of what God’s peace looks like. Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry gives us glimpses of what God’s peace looks like. Salvation history in the Bible gives us these glimpses. We are given these glimpses so we can recognize them in our own time. We learn the stories and teachings of our faith so we are alert to the salvation that IS happening around us all the time, alert to the peace that IS emerging around us and within us.
As I turn my field of view toward Ferguson, Missouri I can see signs of peace emerging in prophetic voices demanding the light of justice shine upon disrespect and distrust perpetrated over generations. Peace makes demands upon us to look at the hurt and injustice. Peace demands we bear witness to the suffering.
I do not know what it is like to walk through this culture with skin other than white skin. I hear stories from friends and acquaintances whose skin is a different color than mine about what their lives are like. Why do I continue to be shocked by the stories of racial profiling, as well as subtle and blatant expressions of racism they experience? Why? Because these are not experiences I have but they are experiences my friends have almost daily. What is it like to go through life when almost every day, and for some every day, you are the recipient of some slight, small and large, simply because the color of your skin is not white?
Tom DeWolf, who grew up in this congregation wrote this on his blog:
- Why are Michael Brown and Eric Garner dead at the hands of police while white suspects Jared Loughner (who killed 6 and injured 13 at a political rally) and James Holmes (who killed 10 and injured 58 at a movie theater) were not shot and killed by police, but apprehended to stand trial?
- Why do young black males face a 21-times-greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts?
- Why are black people 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite comparable usage rates?
- Why do people of color make up 60% of American prison population while representing only 30% of the general population?
(Read the entire post at: http://tomdewolf.com/no-indictment-and-no-surprise-in-death-of-eric-garner/)
The killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner is received among most African Americans this way; “It is okay for a white police officer to kill a young black man.” Many people feel police officers are often easily and unfairly maligned, but my experience of the police is different from that of most of my African-American friends and acquaintances. Their reality includes teaching their boys before they are 7 how to deal with a police officer who is confronting them. It has not been my reality, but because it is the reality of my brothers and sisters, it must become my reality too. This is the nature of compassion that Jesus taught and embodied.
This is the kind of compassion that makes room for peace to take deep root. This is the kind of compassion that waters peace with hope. It is hard, hard work, but isn’t God’s peace worth the effort?
It is my prayerful hope that in 2015 we at FCC Pomona will make an effort and continue to work on being agents of racial Reconciliation through all that we do.