Tag Archives: Ferguson

Boiling Point

Read Ephesians 4:26-31

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NLT)

Boiling PointWhen I was a teenager, I could really get angry sometimes. I was not one who got that mad often; however, I have always been the type of person who would hold things in, bottle it up as it were, and not really let anyone know I was upset in a constructive way. I was kind of like a soda bottle. You could shake it a little, then a little more, then a little more. Following the first slight shake, not much happens. But with each subsequent shake, more and more pressure builds up until, at some point, the cap bursts off the top and the soda come-a-flyin’ out like a volcanic eruption.

Often times, by the time I got that upset, it was usually something relatively silly that ended up bringing me beyond the explosion point. This may be shocking to people who know me because I am typically an easy going guy; however, everyone has that point that they reach where they get so angry they can’t contain it. I remember this one time I got angry while I was hanging out with friends. To be honest, I don’t remember what I was angry over. I am sure that I had gotten into an argument earlier with my parents. I know that there were other things going on that I was holding in as well. Again, I can’t remember what made me mad at that particular moment, but I remember punching the wall out of anger. Now, this was not a smart move…at all…because the wall was made of cinderblock. I didn’t break anything, thankfully, but boy did my hand let me know how utterly foolish I was in my anger!!!

Now, if we’re all honest, there is nothing really shocking about me getting angry…especially as a teenager. Teenage angst is not a new thing. The real problem was not that I was getting angry, but that I was not communicating well what I was getting angry over. I was pretending like I wasn’t angry until I couldn’t pretend anymore. Once that point was reached, there was no turning back. I would explode over something relatively petty and it almost always resulted in the wrong person taking the brunt of my anger. The fact is that, if I had addressed my being upset to those who were actually hurting me, or at the very least talked about my being hurt with those who loved me enough to listen, I wouldn’t have EVER gotten to the boiling point.

When I look at the United States of America today, and when I look at our world, I see people who have reached their boiling point. They’ve been holding in their hurt, their anger, their rage, and now everything (big or small) that happens sets people off into explosive, and often violent, behavior. Whether we are talking about the riots going on around the country, or work place violence, or other explosive situations, I see a world gone mad in the hurt it has been trying to, or forced to, contain for so long.

Christ is calling us all to lay down our swords and to be agents of love and peace; however, the only way we can begin to do this is to begin to communicate with the people. We need to be honest with others when we feeling hurt or upset, and we also need to be good listeners, slow to speak and quick to listen to those who are feeling hurt and upset. This is not easy work. In fact, it can be quite trying and painful; however, if we are ever to move beyond the realm of pain and of a violence that only creates more hurt and pain, then we will have to begin to be honest with ourselves and with others. We will also have to begin to be humble enough to learn compassionate listening. I pray we are all up to the challenge.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

PRAYER
Lord, help me to be honest about my hurts and pains, to be humble enough to be a good listener for others, and allow me to be a peacemaker within myself so that I can make peace in the world around me. Amen.

What Really Matters

Read Amos 5:21-24

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:6-7, NLT)

Like a RiverToday is Black Friday, a day when much of America is seemingly out shopping in preparation for the largest gift-giving season in the world. The day became known as “Black Friday” because businesses were said to go from being in the “red”, meaning they owed more than they brought in, to being in the “black”, which means that their revenue exceeded what they owed. It is no wonder then that Black Friday has become Big Business’s happy holiday as billions of shoppers spend their money on Christmas gifts.

In the wake of the violent riots that broke out this week in Ferguson, Missouri, however, there is no doubt that this year black Friday may be seeming a little more trivial than it normally does. Of course, it really always seems trivial to many people, and rightfully so; however, as smoldering smoke rises from chain stores and “mom and pop” shops alike in Ferguson, it is perhaps time for us to pause and reflect on the things that actually matter. No matter where we fall in our understanding surrounding the death of Michael Brown this past summer, the fact remains that this country is still suffering under the injustices of the past that keep resurfacing to haunt us.

It’s unfortunate that it takes the death of an eighteen year old, the ruination of the lives of a police officer and his family, and the destruction of an entire community for people to see that we aren’t out of the water yet when it comes to the racial tensions that divide us as a nation. We so often try to bury the past and busy ourselves with trivialities in order to go about our lives “unaware” of the injustice that surrounds us. Again, I say that without making a judgment call about the particular case in Ferguson.

As I sit here and write this, I am shedding tears and praying prayers for Michael Brown’s family who are so torn with grief over the loss of a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, and a grandchild. I am also shedding tears and praying prayersfor Darren Wilson and his family as they, too, are caught in all of this. I am shedding tears for the black communities, and minority communities, who have endured a system that is skewed against them because of their race. I am shedding tears and praying prayers for police officers and first responders who go to work, and put their lives on the line everyday, only to be put in situations where they have their decisions scrutinized by people who are not in harm’s way or forced to make those decisions. There are a lot of tears to go around.

As we reflect on Ferguson and the larger issues that are facing our country, let us see where we all fit into the picture. Let us realize that we too have a part to play in all of this. Will we be a part of the effort to sweep our past under the carpet, or will we be a part of the long, and often painful, process to work toward HOPE, HEALING, and WHOLENESS. God has called us to be a people who seek to live justly, who love mercy, and who walk humbly with God. The question is, for each of us, are we willing to answer God’s call?

My ultimate prayer is that justice and mercy will simultaneously flow like a river. That people will take the hard steps to work together in order that we may truly, one day, call each other brothers and sisters. I pray that God will use each of us as vessels that not only bear witness to the presence of God in our communities, but also that bring God’s hope, healing, and wholeness to them as well! The time has come for us to drop the trivial pursuits and start working toward what really matters: justice and mercy!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRAYER

Lord, allow both justice and mercy to flow like a river through us and into our communities. Amen.