“There are many constructive avenues we can take to circumvent our confusion and anger about how Freddie Gray was unjustifiably killed. Anger and hate toward one another will not benefit anyone. The answers often become clear through advocacy and education, which can lead to a higher commitment to one’s values and pull people together in positive ways. A call for a community of faith to come together is in order because we need God to order our steps.”
~ Gia’Donna Nichols-Holmes; Metropolitan Community Church of Baltimore Social Justice Advocate and Editor; (Rev. Victoria L. Burson Sr. Pastor)
This week our hearts go out to our neighbors and friends in Baltimore. Sadly, peaceful protests regarding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, turned violent. The grief of his unjust death was compounded by the grief of dreams burning in the streets
The problems of unequal education, drug abuse, police brutality, racial discrimination, economic disparity and violence in its blatant and subtle forms are spiritual problems. More than ever, communities of faith are called to prayer, education, advocacy, and actions of compassion.
Compellingly, the lectionary scripture this Sunday from John 15:1-8 speaks to the heartbreak in Ferguson, Newark, Baltimore and every place where brutality has stolen some lives and broken others. Jesus speaks that without connection there is death. Like branches connected to the vine, Jesus invites us to connect to the very source of love, thereby staying connected in love to each other.
As I sadly watched the footage of fires burning in Baltimore, I was reminded of Jesus’ description of disconnected branches “thrown into a fire, and burned” (John 15:6). The disconnection of trust between police and citizens, especially police and black youth, is endemic of spiritual and social disconnection on multiple religious, cultural, and social levels.
Is there hope beyond the violence? Yes, I believe the generous, inclusive, non-violent faith of churches like MCCDC and MCC Baltimore is hope for our neighborhoods—and our world. Jesus said “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
As I pray, I know what I want, at least as a starting point: I want a world where young black men can walk down the street without being profiled and buy snacks at a convenience store without risking their lives.
This Sunday, we will worship and praise our God who calls us to work for good in our world. And we will pray for renewed connection in the broken places that only God and God’s people can repair.