by Rev. Pamela Pirtle, Director of Leadership Development & Accountability, GCSRW
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” -Ephesians 5:11
If kneeling is an act of reverence for that which one holds sacred, in honor and is committed in devotion to, what happened on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis? How does someone kneel on the back of another man’s neck, hear his cries for release from trauma, calling for his mother, and yet continue in this act of worship? This scene showed what the officer held as sacred in his heart by kneeling on that man’s neck, was a worship of hatred so deep, so dark, many of us cannot comprehend it.
Therefore, maybe when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem it wasn’t a sign of disrespect after all, but rather a sign of his respect, holding this country and Black lives as honorable and sacred. Yet, he was villainized and made to feel like less than an American citizen because of the color of his skin. His freedom of speech was violated; essentially taking his breath away. But this officer in Minneapolis knelt on a man’s neck, crushing his breath as if he were less than human. In doing so the officer and his colleagues declared themselves superior and victorious venerating racism and deep hatred.
The video of George Floyd’s murder has shaken this country because it is a reminder of the rampant culture of hatred that has been a part of this country’s dark history to enforce white supremacy for more than 400 years. This is based on a set of beliefs that every soul is not equal, nor deserving of life itself. But, if we’re all made in the image of God, then every life matters to God.
This devotion is simply a call to action for every person who professes to be a Christian and believes in the God in whom all are created, the giver of life, the one who gives us the breath that George Floyd was losing by the minute when he yelled, “I can’t breathe!” The Bible reminds us that as people of faith, we are not only called to represent Christ in the earth by gathering in worship centers where we kneel collectively in honor of God. We are called to use the breath God gave us to speak out against the evils of hatred that have permeated our society.
If we are going to live like Jesus we have to speak out against the oppression of all persons and critique their mistreatment. Jesus showed this example countless times when he refused to be silent about the inequities that persisted in his day. The theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once stated:
“We are not Christ, but if we want to be Christians, we must have some share in Christ’s large-heartedness…by showing a real sympathy that springs from the liberating and redeeming love of Christ for all who suffer…The Christian is called to sympathy and action.”
Let us pray: God grant that we will be participants in doing good, in taking the high way, in standing together in unity seeking your justice, your peace, your highest good for all humankind. Amen.