A Special Reflection, Monday, June 1, 2020
By: David May, Rector
“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” – II Timothy 1:7
It was this past Friday evening as I was watching the news coverage of the protests all over our nation that I began to become conscious of what had happened. George Floyd, an African American, had been murdered four days earlier in broad daylight in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s murder was recorded in its entirety by an onlooker, a seventeen-year-old girl. We all saw it. To say that our nation is in an agony of pain over Floyd’s murder and how it happened is an understatement. Black Americans are experiencing an excruciating re-traumatization of the unhealed wounds of historic, systemic violence and injustice. I believe, because I have to believe, that the vast majority of people are becoming conscious – again – that they don’t want live in a world where this kind of thing continues to happen again and again.
So why had it taken me four days to become conscious of what had happened? Why has it taken over a week for me to respond? My sermon for this past Sunday was recorded late this past Thursday afternoon. By the time it finally, finally hit me what was happening, it was late Friday and the work to piece all the different parts of the service was completed. I hoped the scene of conflict in the sermon I had recorded would resonate broadly enough to include George Floyd’s murder. But maybe that’s just the half-hearted hope that contributes to the perpetuation of systemic evils like racism. There is a hard conversation going on in my own spirit about that right now which I believe is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
What is important, I think, is to begin wherever you are. At the heart of the Christian faith is the life of Jesus who came to save us from our sins and to heal this broken world. It is a normal experience of a living faith in Jesus to be broken open, to repent, to seek forgiveness and the amendment of life that can lead – with God’s help – to reconciliation. This pattern is the Way of the Cross which is, for us, the Way of Love. In this world, we – none of us – is ever past that.
I have begun to think through what we can do as a church to live in this Way of the Cross as the murder of George Floyd has broken open this world and our lives. I’ll be offering a first vision for that in the reflection for this coming Sunday. For now, let me tell you where the Scripture passage that heads this reflection comes from.
My grandmother was an old-fashioned, no-nonsense Methodist. Her faith in Jesus and the Bible as the Word of God was complete. Over the course of her life, she would pick a passage from the Bible to be the special ‘Bible verse’ for each of her grandchildren. The verse from Second Timothy is the one she gave me. Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, I was pulling weeds, sweeping clots of spiderwebs from the eaves of our house, washing Em’s car and pruning bushes, working and working in a complete stew. Somewhere along the way, this verse just came to me. As I found it taking shape in my spirit, it was like a centerboard coming down into place in a small sailboat that sets the boat moving ahead instead of being pushed this way and that by the wind and waves.
There is work to do. The Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us, even into places we might not wish to go. But I am certain, that those places are where we will find Jesus – as ever – ‘about his Father’s business’ in this world and calling us to follow him.