THANKSGIVING FOR FERGUSON
I’m not really, but I am trying to think of how and why I could be thankful for the events in Ferguson, MO this Thanksgiving of 2014.
I’m thankful that no matter the injustice that exists in temporal times, God’s Word says eternity is real and lasts forever, and there is no injustice there or then, forever.
I’m thankful that in a world that can be terrifying with the prospect that even if you did everything right (and especially when you don’t) someone may take away your rights, your freedom, or your life; there is the assurance of heaven, and eternal life. Some things the world can take away, and some things it never can.
I’m thankful that in a context where facts are disputed and there is much confusion some things are very clear. A young man was killed, and he was unarmed, and that in and of itself is a tragedy and should not be. The clarity of that should be gripping, and I am glad some people get that rather than seeking justification for it.
I’m thankful that in the face of so many loudly declaring that racism is no longer existent or that we have outgrown our problems reality smacks us in the face once again, and is forcing many to think and discuss how far we have not yet come.
I am thankful that many young people, and many church people, especially in the St. Louis area have taken these events deeply to heart and are grieving, and angry at injustice, yet praying, and talking, and leading in the efforts of healing, peace, and dialogue.
I am thankful for the measure of restraint I see in the police around the country during these protests. I am thankful as one who remembers Kent State, who lived in Newark, NJ and remembers the riots of the 60’s and is appreciative of how American authorities are not as heavy handed as they used to be.
I am thankful to the people in the community who sought to protect the property of others from being destroyed, and who realize how senseless it is for people to burn their own neighborhoods down. I am glad for those that oppose that kind of violence as I remember how many decades it has taken for some cities to rise from the ashes of previous riots.
I am thankful that those who say they “are so tired of making this into a racial issue” are made to stay awake and kept from falling to sleep by their own willful ambien ignorance and being forced to realize that the nation is not yet healed, and that their instransigence to listening and taking action is part of the problem.
I am thankful for the churches that over these last decades have intentionally sought to be cross-cultural and multi-racial and are not now embarrassed by having somehow missed the fight of justice or love.
I am thankful that a national spotlight can be focused on the culture of police tactics, training, and internal investigation and that possibly some departments can be exposed for terrible leadership, mismanagement, the excusing of racist or brutal officers, or the cover up of abuse of power.
I am thankful for courageous policeman who do treat people, even really bad people, with respect and dignity while seeking to protect the community and truly serve the people even at the risk of their lives.
I am thankful that the response around the nation to what has been perceived as a callous indifference to a far too wide and long antagonism between police and black citizens, especially young black males, has not been orchestrated by any organization or leaders but has been a grass roots and spontaneous outcry.
I am thankful that repentance is possible, for abusers, for oppressive authorities, for looters, for seekers after violence, for cowards who hide behind the status quo. I am thankful that there is forgiveness from God for our sins, both personally and corporately. I am thankful that God gives us grace to forgive others who have hurt us, and even to those who won’t admit what they have done.
I am thankful that learning is possible, that the unity of love is stronger than the bitterness and disintegrating nature of hate. I am thankful that one doesn’t have to know everything (all the facts, or where to place the blame, or all the solutions) before one can be caring, and empathetic, or ready to make peace.
I am thankful that there is God in heaven who sits up high but looks down low, who is and always has been the origin and character of justice and mercy. I am thankful that the Sovereign God of the universe is the One who bends the moral arc of the universe toward himself, for in his glory is all the goodness for which we long and hope. I am glad that there is no such thing as “getting away with murder” with Him. No one walks away free from Him who repays except those who knew they needed to be paid for, and here I think of myself, and how thankful I am that Jesus has paid for my sins.