I learned about Alton Sterling this morning. I read that a 37 year old father had been wrestled to the ground, and had then been shot after being subdued by police officers with his face to the ground.
As has been the case with so many of these shootings in the past months, there was smartphone video of a man being killed. This particular video showed a man pinned to the ground, with shots fired shortly afterwards.
I cried as I watched Sterling's eldest son weep during the press statement. The shock of the video shook me to my core.
Even as I processed this event, I was hit with the news of another shooting of Philando Castile by the police. In the video Castile's shirt is soaked in blood and his girlfriend explains that he was shot while reaching for his concealed carry permit.
Many of us were deeply moved by our brother Emmanuel Okharedia's talk on the gospel and racial justice at our fall retreat. A group of us wanted to learn more, and read the book Bloodlines by John Piper.
Russell Moore recently posted on his blog about how the body of Christ should understand about these shootings. If you have no idea of how to act or think regarding these events, I suggest starting there, reading Bloodlines, and asking co-workers, friends, and brothers and sisters in our church whom this matter might be more personal to.
There is no denying that working in law enforcement can bring unimaginable pressure and that we must not demonize people who put their lives on the line and must live in a different sphere of awareness in their daily life. What is equally undeniable, however, is that we clearly have broken systems resulting in a disproportionate number of deaths and psychological trauma to an entire community of people in our country and in the body of Christ.
If you find that these matters do not have any impact on you, let me implore you to dig deeper. Form new relationships. Allow yourself, as scripture says, to "weep with those who weep." Perhaps you have many questions about this, or skepticism. The body of Christ is a safe place to discuss that. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like for a place to talk, discuss, and ask honest questions about these shootings and they are causing so much outrage.
In the book of James the Lord reminds us that to stand with the the powerless and oppressed in our society. And then, let's begin to allow Christ's compassion to stand tall by urging one another in gentleness and love to awareness and action.
A Prayer for the Human Family Afflicted by Racism
Lord, hear our prayer.
…for those who think that black lives do not matter, that they would understand and empathize with the struggles of the African-American community.
…for those who think that all lives do not matter, that they would gain respect for those not like themselves.
…for those affected by police brutality, that they would be healed.
…for those who pull the trigger, that truth and justice may be well served.
…for our men and women in blue, that they can perform their duties effectively, safely, and with dignity.
…for those who mourn, that they would be comforted and rightly vindicated.
…for those who are angry, that they would sin not.
…for looters and rioters, that they would go home and allow peace to prevail.
…for those who are apathetic, that they would learn to care.
…for those who downplay and deny racism, that they would open their eyes.
…for those who exaggerate racism, that they would stop fanning the flames of hate.
…for those who say regrettable things on social media, that they would calm down and trust in the lordship of Jesus Christ, who is the victor of all things.
…for the leaders in Washington, that they would put politics aside for the common good.
…for our country, that social justice will prevail, that we can remain in solidarity together, under God, indivisible.
I pray this for myself first.
Kyrie eleison. Christ have mercy. Amen.