"The world has changed." That's what we said as Coronavirus closed schools, businesses, and churches. Just as we started to adjust to that reality, news reports began announcing the tragic loss of another black life. Peaceful protests arose and riots erupted. We saw tie-ins to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. Suddenly, the world felt the same, and not in a good way. The dark side of the world… our depravity is on display.
I must confess, I was unaware of the tragedy that unfolded in Minneapolis / Saint Paul until I saw the news that riots were happening in Grand Rapids. I had been in a bubble, not paying attention to news feeds. I suppose that is a privileged place to be. As a white man, I don't have to confront systemic racism until it shatters the windows of places that feel a bit closer to home. Driving home Sunday night, one of my boys asked about the riots, and if we were safe. I don't even know where he heard about these happenings. I was caught off guard. I had to explain that sometimes people are so frustrated that they say or do things that are bad, in order to express their pain. Without knowing it, I explained to them in terms that Martin Luther King Jr. once used: “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
I don't condone violence; neither do I condone destruction. In this already difficult season, I see another reason to come to God in prayer and get to know His word. Since Covid-19 began, I have consistently said that we will never go back to exactly what was before. My sense is that in the long term, that will be a good thing. Some of our idols have fallen during the season of “Stay Home, Stay Safe.” I hope and pray that many are closer to God now than they were before Covid-19 happened.
As protests and riots flare up across the country and world, it is clear that there is more work that needs to be done on the part of believers. This too, is a call to prayer and a call for the Church to awaken to God’s heart. While many of us are removed from the places where these issues are so clearly on display, none of us are removed from the responsibility we have to pray for our fellow image-bearers. None of us are removed from God’s call to love one another as He has loved us.
Today, I find myself praying that God will move in such a way that we cannot go back to the way it was before these recent injustices. I'm asking God, "Please move in our midst... help us to weed out the sin... confess what needs to be confessed... give us your heart, that we would lament with you. Lord, lead us to repentance for what we have done and left undone so that you, Holy Spirit, have the space to bring about transformation and renovation in us as individuals, as the Church, and as your world. Groan with us, and make us new, we pray. Amen.”
The CRC’s Network has made resources available to help us pray and respond appropriately. Specifically, the article written up by our denomination’s Acting Executive Director found here: https://network.crcna.org/racial-reconciliation/beyond-thoughts-and-prayer offers good insights as well as actions we can take.
May the shalom of God’s Kingdom come soon!