Monday June 1, 2020
It is the same with my word.Isaiah 55:11-13 (NLT)
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
Every week in many churches around the world, The Lord’s Prayer is said by Christians of every race, gender, and age. The prayer is structured to acknowledge the sovereignty of God – that God is ruler over all, and it starts with a pleading for the Kingdom of God to come “on earth as it is in heaven”. Then, the prayer includes asking God to provide us with what we may need, to forgive us of our wrongs, as we forgive others of their wrongs, to keep us far from temptation, and to deliver us from evil. Why? Because the Kingdom, the power, and the glory is God’s. Amen.
But the Lord’s prayer is not meant to be simply mere words that we have to say on a Sunday morning, or when we may say these words in our prayers during the week; the Lord’s Prayer is meant to be personally, and culturally, transformative in pointing us toward the truth that God has, does, and can intervene in our world, and that we are meant to be a part of that intervention.
The passage from Isaiah for today’s devotional speaks to the power of God’s intervention in our world by proclaiming that even the seemingly impossible things can be done by our God. For what mountains sing? What trees clap their hands? What vegetation can grow and thrive amidst thorns and weeds?
God has and will continue to work within our world to restore it, to heal it, and to redeem it – Especially where it seems impossible to do so.
But if we, as God’s followers do nothing for that mission besides saying a prayer and not letting it transform us…we miss the point of the Lord’s Prayer, and we miss the mark on being a “light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6).
On May 25, 2020, an African-American man, George Floyd, was restrained by a white police officer who put his knee and some of his weight on the neck of Floyd for over 8 minutes, which caused Floyd to die at the scene. While Floyd was on the ground struggling to get the words out “I Can’t Breathe!”, the officer kept his knee in place, and the three officers who were with him stood by and did not seek to aid Floyd.
The aftermath of Floyd’s death resulted in protests that called for the officer’s arrest for what is clearly brutality, excessive force, and murder, and justice for the officers who stood by.
Some of these protests have turned into violent riots – including the damage of government and private property and businesses, and violence against police forces, as well as against the protestors.
Riots are, by nature, chaotic, and they are seldom seen as positive by the broader public. But we have to ask, even when we don’t understand – what are the riots in response to?
Our nation has seen many instances of unarmed people of color being beaten or killed by police. Also in May 2020, 25-year old African-American Ahmaud Arbery was out for a jog, and he was killed in cold blood by white civilians in the street.
In the outbreak of Covid-19, Asian-Americans have received racial slurs, looks of fear, and have been genuinely afraid for their lives, simply because of the color of their skin.
Our nation has seen peaceful protests against these kinds of instances, and many have ignored the weight and truth behind the statement of #BlackLivesMatter and replaced it with #AllLivesMatter. All lives do matter, but that is precisely what Black Lives Matter is getting at; some people do not seem to believe that Black Lives Matter.
In 2017, some people from my hometown Alma Mater of Quakertown, called an opposing football team’s cheerleaders racial slurs, told them that black lives don’t matter, and then when the team loaded onto their school buses, some Quakertown students threw rocks at the buses while they continued using racial slurs.
Racism is still alive and well in 2020 America. Racism is still alive in my hometown. And racism is anti-Christ. There is no way to reconcile praying for God’s Kingdom of hope and peace to come, with people who pray these words continuing to act on, or support, racism.
In addition, I do not think that it is right to say these words in our prayers, and to remain silent on issues of prejudice; to not speak up against it when we know of it.
If we cannot strive against prejudice, we cannot, truly, be a light to ALL nations and ALL people.
If we do not listen to the cries of the oppressed, we ignore the calling of God upon us to work towards bringing the Kingdom of God to earth through our compassion, through our words, and through our actions.
If our faith has as bright of a Hope as we claim, the kind of Hope that believes that God can do the seemingly impossible, then we need to be people who live that Hope by striving against injustice and racism that is a part of our fallen world.
Black Lives Matter to God, and God is continually seeking to aid the oppressed. How can we do our part as followers of God now?