Posted by: HAT | November 26, 2014

Wording

Hi, Gang!

I, myself, was proud to see this statement from the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), of which I am member.

Today the community justice system of Ferguson, Missouri, told the parents of Michael Brown that his killing was justified. We grieve with the family and community about the decision, and encourage support for their continued quest for justice.

This decision calls the whole church to reflect seriously about the communities and the racial climate we have created in this country. We need a society where everyone is treated with dignity and valued, where there is no fear of walking down the street. We and the places where we live have fallen short of that.

We call the church to pray that God will give us the courage and strength to have honest conversations about race where we live, work, and worship. We pray for safe spaces in Ferguson and in all communities for people to voice their views. We hope for lessons learned, lives changed, and inequitable systems across the United States dismantled in order to bring about the kind of world God has called us to co-create.

The last healing miracle of Jesus is in Luke 22. It is the story of Jesus’ capture in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of the disciples reacts, and in defense of Jesus slices off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus says “No more of this!” and heals the servant. May “no more of this” and healing be the church’s response. Amen

I, myself, thought it was consistent with the larger tradition of the Church of Jesus Christ, which I also count myself a member of, although as Paul Tillich said, that is never ultimately one’s own decision to make.

I am also aware that many people, including people I know personally and whom I love and respect, feel very differently about this statement. I am working hard to think about what it would mean, really, for “the whole church to reflect seriously about the communities and the racial climate we have created in this country.” And in particular, not to dwell comfortably in the illusion that what happened and is happening in Ferguson is happening “somewhere else,” and is genuinely “not something I have anything to do with,” and “can do nothing about.”

I believe that the world in which we (all of us) live does not HAVE to be the way it is. It is the way it is because “we” make it that way, and I am one of the participants in that “we.” While we do not have infinite degrees of freedom when it comes to making changes, we never have none. While it is often true that what any of us can do individually is very little, it is always true that we can do the very little we can. Whether we do that very little, or do not, we are responsible for what we choose.

What all of that means in practice is, I suspect, what Paul meant when he counseled the Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). It’s not always that obvious – but we have to do it anyway. I don’t really “trust the system.” But I do trust Grace.

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