Tuesday, February 23
1 Peter 2 contains this call to citizenship – Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… [f]or this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
Area faith leaders condemn police brutality in Richmond, VA, in 2020. Image from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander a lawyer herself, draws a line between the traditional idea of community policing and a militarized police force. “The transformation from “community policing” to “military policing,” began in 1981, when President Reagan persuaded Congress to pass the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Act, which encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, intelligence, research, weaponry, and other equipment for drug interdiction.”
By militarizing our police departments against our own citizens do we ignore when 1 Peter goes on to say, “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil”? The murder of George Floyd is a direct result of 40 years of “military policing”, which disproportionately targets people of color. The Church too often stood by as the war on drugs was waged as a war on communities of color.
Action step: today, with brutal honesty examine your church’s place in the community asking, “do we speak prophetically to our local, state, and national governments about police integrity and violence?” A church that demands the liberation of all people is antiracist offering the prophetic voice of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Forgive us, Lord.
Forgive us when we wake each day hoping the nightmare has ended.
Forgive us when we cling to our opinions that it can’t be as bad as some say.
Forgive us when we shout for our rights when others can’t breathe.
Forgive us when we look for short-term fixes rather than substantive changes
in our society, in our institutions, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, in our hearts.
In our hearts, O Lord, of every part of me, every thought of mine, every reaction and response.
In our hearts.
Forgive me when I think this problem is about everyone else’s heart.
Forgive me when I won’t do the work I need to do to examine my own soul because
“I don’t have a racist bone in my body.”
Forgive me when I discover that I am a part of the problem and not somehow different or pure.
Forgive me when I want to give up because this is too big, too much, too frightening, too overwhelming.
Forgive me, Lord.
Forgive, please forgive.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. (Matt. 18:21-22)
Derek C. Weber, July 2020 by UMC Discipleship’s Praying for Change: Daily Prayers for Anti-Racism Email on July 24, 2020