Dear Emmaus,

Tuesday’s guilty verdict against Dereck Chauvin is an historic moment in our state and in our nation.  Last May we witnessed the death of George Floyd.  We have spoken the names of black men and women who have lost their lives at police hands.  We have been witnesses to many protests over this past year, including those that have been violent and riotous.  Our communities have grappled with how to discuss racism with one another.  As a church we are discussing these matters in the light of Jesus’ Good News.  Many of us have experienced the movement and conviction of the Holy Spirit to learn more, to engage more, to speak up more against racism.  So Tuesday’s verdict lands close to many hearts in ways that we might not even be aware of yet.  

I am sure that in the coming weeks and months we will each have opportunities to process these events in meaningful ways.  I want to invite us to consider ways that we can respond to the news of the verdict.  No doubt, this list is non-exhaustive, incomplete, lacking.  Perhaps God will bring alternative responses to your mind.  Still, I urge us to take on one or more of these actions in the coming days.  And as we do, may the love of God and the peace of Jesus fill our hearts.

  1. Pray.  Jesus taught us to be persistent in prayer.  It is a theme throughout the New Testament.  Let us continue in fervent prayer.  Sometimes calls to prayer can sound like a call to passivity.  This is not a time for passivity.  To persist in prayer ought not mean that we neglect the work that God sets before us.  To the contrary, persistent prayer fuels the work of righteousness.  It empowers the work of justice.  It is a conduit of God’s healing and restoration.  It anchors us in the Holy Spirit and the power of God.  Prayer puts us in the presence of the Almighty.  And if our hearts are open to it, prayer opens our ears to hear God’s voice.
  2. Find a safe person to talk to about these events.  Many times in today’s world we can find ourselves among unsafe people who will not offer us grace or kindness as we process the things that are near our hearts.  But it is likely that God has put at least one person in your life who is safe, who will listen and support you as you share what is on your heart.  That’s a phone call worth making.
  3. Join the conversations at Emmaus regarding race and the church.  There is an opportunity every Tuesday night at 7:00pm to meet with people in our congregation to discuss race and the church.  This meeting happens over Zoom for the time being.  I invite you to join us even if you never have.  You can get the link by emailing the church and joining our email list.  I cannot promise that all of us will always agree on every matter that we talk about, but by joining the conversation you will add another voice in our commitment to becoming a church who will talk about difficult things in light of Christ’s gospel.
  4. Support a cause or justice-minded organization.  You could make a donation in honor of Tuesday’s events or take part in an event or effort that promotes God’s Kingdom in our community.  Let God’s Spirit guide you.  
  5. Be a voice of encouragement in someone’s life.  Perhaps you know someone who lives in Minneapolis.  You could be a voice of support and encouragement to them by sending a letter or making a call.  Perhaps you have a friend or family member who is a person of color.  You could reach out to them and tell them that you love them.  Ask them how they are doing.  Listen to what they share with you.  Or perhaps you know a person in leadership in our community.  Reach out and show your support.  These days are bringing deep discouragement to those in leadership.  Why not be a squeaky wheel of encouragement to their leadership?  You can be a light in another’s life in this way.

As you reflect on these five items, may the following quotes remind you of God’s goodness and our common call as Jesus followers in the world.

With much love,

Pastor Abe

People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven. -Jesus

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.  -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  -The Apostle Paul