I can remember back to a sermon a not so favorite past bishop of mine preached. In the sermon, he talked about politics. He spoke about how churches and pastors generally eschew speaking about politics for fear of angering one constituency or another. He reminded us that all of life is politics.
Jesus practiced politics throughout his ministry. A definition of politics is, “the way that people living in groups make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries.” Any time we are engaging with another person, there is politics involved. Any time we listen to, try to influence, give an opinion to, or otherwise converse with another human being, politics are at play.
For me, I have generally tried to be somewhat neutral in church settings when it comes to conversations of a political nature. I try not to inject my particular voting preference into pronouncements from the pulpit or as a spokesperson for my congregation.
But we need to have a political conversation. I say political, because it has to do with persuasion and influence, and it strikes a chord in the current situation.
I’m reflecting on a scripture today from Genesis 4: 9, “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’”
Just last week we were dealing with the arrest of two white men for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was jogging. Now, this week we have the murder of George Floyd by four white police officers. Yes, I said murder, because he begged for his life while they knelt on his neck until he died. I’m tired my friends. I’m tired of the system that allows and/or is sickeningly slow to react to the systematic murder of persons simply because of the color of their skin.
I saw 2 pictures taken in Minnesota juxtaposed against one another; one taken in 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota, the other taken in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 1920 photo showed two black men hung from a utility pole with a group of white onlookers, the 2020 photo showed George Floyd on the ground with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
We would like to believe in 2020 we have dealt with our problem with race, and put it behind us. We have not. We have such a long way to go.
After the first recorded murder in the Bible, God asked Cain where his brother was. God had been watching, God had seen, God knew. Cain responded by asking if he was his brother’s keeper. Is this what we are doing when we don’t demand our system change in its treatment of persons of color?
Are we looking the other way? Are we not concerned with how our brothers and sisters are treated? Be assured my friends, God is watching, God sees, and God remembers. Evil will not go unpunished, and part of that evil is also the evil of inaction. We are called to be the keepers, the advocates, those who will stand up for those who are oppressed. We are called to not sit idly by while persons are being exterminated.
We must act, we must be a part of the solution. We must demand those in power act appropriately and with the same zealousness as if their own child had been murdered. We follow Jesus, and Jesus would call us to side with those who have no power, no advocate, no one to stand with them.
We are keepers my friends, keepers in charge of making sure that all persons are treated with dignity and respect, all the while being kept safe.
May we never again ask the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are.
Blessings and Peace,