Our children are our future, they are our hope and they hold our hearts in their little hands. When they grow up, they are still our children and we still want to protect them. If there is one basic human feeling that we should all understand in guts its the common human desire to protect our children and their future. No matter what culture, language, race or nationality we all seek the good of our children and would do anything for them.
We have this common basic desire and yet, how we struggle to see this in each other. We see the differences between us and get scared rather than have compassion.
In Ferguson, Missouri a community is grieving because one of their children (yes, 18 year olds are big kids, but still kids) was murdered with his hands up in a sign of surrender by someone who had sworn to serve and protect. Would any of us be calm if our 18 year old was killed in such a way? Would our community? And the man who shot him was not arrested, but is protected. The reputation of the victim has been smeared. The community stands in protest of this injustice and the police takes the stance of a militaristic, oppressive force. Who will say that this is not OK?
How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
God says its not ok to treat people as if they are nothing. God says we have to give justice especially to the weak, the lowly, the poor and the needy. God will judge us if we do not stand up for the Michael Browns, the Trayvon Martins, the children who study in broken down schools, the children with not enough to eat, the children judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. They are God’s children, and God will hold us accountable to how we did or did not stand for them.
Everyday we have an opportunity to stand for others, on the side of God. With our words, actions and attitude we can make a difference and fight racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and injustice wherever we find it. We can say to each other that it is not OK to judge people by skin color, religion, or nationality. We can say “no” to those who would have one group be better or more powerful than any other. We can say “no” to the swastika, the Confederate flag, and to hateful speech that belittles and demeans. We can stand up for all children. God help us make the world a safe place for every child.
Iowa churches and pastors I beg you: Talk about Ferguson. Talk about how it would feel to lose an 18 year old of your community in this way. Talk about what we expect from our police and how they should be accountable when they make a mistake – they are human beings too. Talk about racism. Talk about how God made all of us a rainbow of colors that is beautiful in God’s eyes. Talk about our baptismal vow to “accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
I had a visitor come to our Lakeside (Boat-In) service this past Sunday. She wrote me an email after the service talking about how she was hoping, yet not expecting, for a message about Ferguson because the white church has disappointed her so many times before. I was scared, but I talked about it. She was relieved and filled with hope because of what she heard.
Be bold, be strong, the Lord your God is with you!
Rev. Dr. Sarah Rohret is an Elder in the United Methodist Church and serves at Calvary United Methodist Church in Arnold’s Park, IA and is the Chair of the Iowa Board of Church and Society.