It’s a mid-week day in June. There’s a Minnesota sky of blue above. There’s a full-bloom linden tree of golden green before me. An early afternoon sun fills the courtyard of our “Covenant Living” home. I sit alone on our little balcony. I am safe – partly, because I am old, and protected by others.
The news on radio and television is still about the anger on America’s streets, beginning with those that are only three miles away from where I sit. My heart weeps for our city. For police who want to do good, who endanger their lives every day, but on one day, just a week ago, played the bully, the strong man, and turned a small arrest at a neighborhood store into a brutal confrontation that brought a man to the ground and, in eight short minutes pressed the life out of him by one officer kneeling on his neck.
The man was black, and America cried out in wrath that such unfair discipline could happen, and, from the first moment, could be recognized as murder.
The protests have not stopped – in cities and towns across America. Anger everywhere, of every variety. The young in my family were there. Fellow minister friends of mine were there. Friends black and white of mine were there. But – I was not.
My heart wanted to stand there too. My presence saying, “Yes, even old men, with no pulpit to “protect” them, whose vigorous days are past, who still “have visions and dream dreams,” care, and would be there if they physically could.
Of course, over the decades my sermons were preached, I spoke out, I met on football fields with young people, I went to draft boards with budding pacifists. I longed to go to Selma, but stayed home to be a brother and persuader to my people of Minnesota.
And now the pregnant moment has come again, and I sit safe – only wishing. But, I say now what has always been true. God alone is the great answer. Jesus only, as “the way, the truth, and the life” is the answer. The Way of the Cross, of giving up ourselves, of daring to ask forgiveness, and of washing the feet of those we’ve hurt. Of daring to ask forgiveness of our black friends, our Native American friends, our Christian brothers and sisters whom we’ve hurt.
We can work harder at “presence.” Of going to sit in pews of other congregations of our city, perhaps carrying greetings. Making time and place for conversations. And prayer, together. Ways to show our heart.
How tame that sounds. But not if we really do it. Stepping out of the habits, the ruts of our lives, and doing something different.
Jesus walked, you know. But, He didn’t really march, he sat on hillsides, and talked. He invited friends to sit at tables and talk. He used situations as they arose.
We could too, if we tried. All those ways of being friends. Of opening our lives to others. Of acknowledging their need of us, and we of them.
Oh Jesus, help us be who we say we are!
Love you, friends.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES