This weekend is Pentecost, when we who follow Christ celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit upon humanity at large: the ability to receive God’s spirit as part of the promise of Jesus (John 14:16). This Pentecost, we need it all the more.
This weekend we also see America melting into even more rage, stoked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has spawned not only protests but riots across the country. My heart breaks to see it all.
My heart breaks to see what happened to George Floyd. My heart breaks at the lack of caring for another human being that precipitated his death. We’ve seen the allegation that Floyd had passed off a fake $20 bill; even if so, that is not a capital crime and the police are not also judge and executioner. Even if Floyd needed to be restrained, where is the humanity in kneeling on his neck so as to cause his death? I have had the privilege of working among law enforcement for almost three decades; the use of an unsanctioned restraint technique isn’t good police work, it’s abusive, it’s terrible, and it caused a man–a human being–to lose his life.
My heart breaks at the frequency with which this happens in America, and among the non-white population. My wife asked the smart question the other night: why aren’t we seeing this happen more among white arrestees? Kinda makes me wonder.
My heart breaks at any system that we as people have set up that devalues the essential humanity of anyone else, because that flies in the face of what God teaches us. Jesus told us there were only two commandments that matter: love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-31). Any system we create, any system we defend, that does not honor the command to love our neighbor is ungodly and cries out for reform.
My heart breaks at rioting. My heart breaks when people wantonly destroy property, when small shops that people have spent a lifetime creating evaporate in a cloud of hate. My heart breaks when people not only take up bricks, but arrange for pallets of bricks to be trucked in ahead of time. That shows not a planning for a protest, but a planning for destruction, which comes not from justice but from retribution, not from justice but from a heart at war. My heart breaks here for the exact same reason: this does not honor the command to love our neighbor.
In the end, my heart breaks at all of the vitriol, the hatred, and the inability to listen to one another that are pervasive in the land today. I don’t know where it started, and I don’t rightly care: I just pray, Lord Jesus, send your Holy Spirit that it may end. Send a spirit of peace and reconciliation, send a spirit of love into our land. Let that be the legacy of Pentecost, where a spirit of truth and peace and love spreads its dove-like wings over America, and we come to know the powerful truth behind those two commandments: to love God entirely, and to love our neighbors in the exact same way.
Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.