Yes, I believe that. And as a Follower of Jesus Christ, I also believe ALL LIVES MATTER. It saddens my heart as Americans still struggle with the issue of race. The unrest in St. Louis after the verdict of a former police officer in the death of an African American male along with divisive words from government leaders only widens the divide before us. I do not believe that is God’s will or God’s plan.
I can attest that racial issues occurring in our Nation is not new to African Americans. The only difference is media and technology that makes it easier getting the message out. We’ve been living with injustice, hatred, terrorism and bias since our ancestors were forced to this country. While laboring, and building and assimilating and building and fighting and building and assimilating and building (I’m sure you get the point) this is our home and our country. While some (and I stress some) Americans still insist in living in denial, this America is home to Native residents, slave-descendant residents, Ellis Island residents, documented, and undocumented immigrants.
The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, states, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26) We are all children of God. We are family. We are also taught to love family and care for one another.
We serve a God that loves diversity and beauty. We experience God’s beauty everyday especially during the change of seasons watching the leaves turn. Walk out into the field or farm land and count how many different arrays of color you see. Can you see the differences? Touch the flowers, corn stalks, or other plant life and observe the different forms and shapes of each one. Can you feel the differences? Drive from southern Illinois heading north and watch how the landscape changes. This is the same beauty we see every day in our brothers and sisters of various hues, shapes and sizes. That’s God!
I commend Rev. Carrie Carnes, Associate Pastor Belleville Union/Journey UMC, and others for joining the protest in St. Louis; seeking justice for all people. This is social justice in action.
I wish to challenge you. Instead of asking African Americans or other people of color their thoughts about the unrest in America; instead of asking what they’re doing about for justice. Why not share what you or your church is doing about the racial unrest in our Nation. You can make a difference.
The United Methodist Church General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) offers grants to local churches up to $35,000 for up to 24 months beginning February 2018. If you have an idea or project that will disrupt racism in your community, consider this resource. Deadline has been extended to October 4, 5p.m. (EDT). Simply check www.gcorr.org or contact Rev. Giovanni Arroyo at 202-495-2943 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The North Central Jurisdiction and the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church are also working toward providing resources and training to local churches and conferences.
Jesus taught the greatest commandment is this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV) Who is your neighbor? All children of God.
Real change starts with you! I challenge you to be the peacemaker and justice advocate that we need.
Be the difference in Christ!
(pictures from Rev. Carrie Carnes’ Facebook page)