I'm reading a thick book about Thomas Jefferson. It's called, "The Art of Power." It was of great concern to Jefferson that people speak directly to each other. That they share their interests and philosophy of life. That they tell the truth. But also that they speak with civility, which he tried to do.
But there was friendship, that after many years of working together, went aground over political differences, and was not mended until near the end of their lives, when they died on the same 4th of July. That was with John Adams.
As a minister, it has always been difficult to speak about true things in the world around us, to the congregations of people I dearly loved, knowing full well many would likely disagree, some to the point of leaving the church.
We are living now through a similarly difficult time. Not only are we trying to live in a time of health pandemic, but we are living through a time of turmoil in the streets of our city, where a man was arrested and brought to the ground and suffocated to death with the knee of a police officer on his neck. He couldn't breathe. The man was black and the officer, white. A video taken by a bystander made it clear it was intentional.
And, so we speak to each other, seeing a multitude of points of view, coming from our own experiences, our own sense of justice and of right and wrong in a community outraged and grieving at what has happened, and trying to express truth and our sense of right and wrong at the same time.
We don't even need to be standing on a street corner trying to speak truth. It can happen with a family gathered to celebrate a birthday or Father's Day, and the tinder of deep feelings can suddenly explode and we are driven apart instead of bonded together.
Jesus wants us to come together as His followers, to speak the truth in love. I doubt we can do that just by logic or a philosophy of right or wrong.
Something deep inside our heart is needed. And that is the claim of love. Not any love. But, love from the cross. Dying love. Giving up your life for another, kind of love. The kind only Jesus, come from the heavenly Father, brought to the world, taught to the world, demonstrated to the world.
The Africans of Rwanda, and Burundi, taught us it is the on your knees kind of love. On your knees in tears kind of love. Washing others' feet kind of love. Very hard. But we know it can be done. Molly and I saw it done, from our own knees. Through our own tears.
The change was dramatic. Transformative. People who hated each other forgave. People who had killed neighbors and friends came out of prison to serve those who were left of families they had mortally wounded, or destroyed.
In three days their glances of still burning hatred and fear, turned to embrace a new kind of love. And so their countries, to this day, are being healed and united.
Such healing retreats are still happening in Minnesota. People from George Floyd's family and neighborhood could come. Police from the 3rd Precinct, whose building was destroyed, could come. Young white and black protesters could come. With God all things are possible. We ourselves could come - even just us, for starters. Drawn by that "old rugged cross, on a hill far away, the emblem of suffering and shame." "O, I love that old cross, where the dearest and best, for a world of lost sinners was slain."
Seem strange? Even impossible? Maybe not. - Maybe not.
Arthur, with love.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."