What does one write? In a time like this? In a season like this one? In a year such as this?
People who cope with humor are creating memes about 2020. The year that began with an entire continent blazing … got worse … and worse … and worse … and then a global pandemic … and resultant worldwide economic collapse … and murder hornets … and Harry Potter fans started speculating about seeing the Dark Mark in the sky … while Christians of a certain stripe started predicting (yet again) the imminent coming of the end of the world as we know it.
Then … the dark underbelly of our nation, the sin of our collective selves comes high-stepping to the fore. The murder of not one, but two, then three of our African American brothers and sisters. Sin leads to one man with his knee on the neck of another begging for breath, for his mother. Sin allows other men to stand by as that man pleads for his life. Evil allows this to transpire again and again and again.
And the people who drive down highways with flags that represent a codified existence belonging to the defeated still think their cause is a righteous one because it is about “a way of life.” This is no way of life. Keeping knees to the neck of another human being? This is the way that leads to evil more deeply entrenched. We bury our own selves with this evil. It is heavy as stones and boulders piling upon us.
In a sermon by a pastor out of Knoxville, I heard the problem simplified this way: “yeah, but.” The way we people of this great nation who believe that all people are created equal yet still respond, “yeah, but,” so that we can justify our forebears having owned another person, or we ourselves being more important than another person or having greater status than another. “Yeah, but” allows us to defend so many evils, making us feel better about ourselves … just enough … so that we can sleep at night … or otherwise raise a little Cain.
We all “bleed the same color,” pastor Stephen DeFur of Cokesbury Church preached.
At the same time when the pandemic could be drawing the best out of us, we have another opportunity to see crystallized in razor-sharp clarity our deep brokenness. The evil of racism is embodied, and certain symbols of so-called Christianity are turned into weaponry to fan the flames of racism so that yet another continent burns.
We are afire. It is not arson. It is the fire of the Holy Spirit blowing flames to burn away the chaff. So that what is left is a clean, common heart and a readiness to be a whole people.
This time of crisis is not about one group of people versus another. This is a turning point because God stays with us through the good times, bad times and the in-between times. The Holy Spirit transforms crisis. We can be transformed, too.
The truth is we cannot love only one kind of people. Because that is not full, mutual, self-giving love. We are called by God to love all people. Maybe 2020 is a catalyst year. We are at the halfway point. It all gets better from here. With a clear vision and purpose. We eradicate both pandemic and dismantle this systemic evil of racism … person by person by person. Choice by choice by choice. To love and love and love each and every broken one.