GROWING IN GRACE
By now, we’ve all seen clips of the ongoing struggles plaguing Baltimore, Maryland following the tragic death and funeral of Freddie Gray. 24-hour news coverage has a way of emotionally wearing viewers out, and maybe that’s why we in South Georgia probably feel a little of the strain of the civil unrest.
Rather than exhausting us more by offering some sort of trite reasons for one “side” or the other, I want to instead point us to one of the many rays of hope that has emerged from the rubble of Baltimore – the sort of stuff cable news won’t focus our attention on.
On Monday morning I saw a video of coverage from a local news station where they followed an outbreak of church happening on the streets of Baltimore. It seems more tha 100 clergy banded together and decided to march in the middle of rioting in order to offer some sort of witness to God’s presence in the midst of civil unrest. For 10+ minutes I watched as this news team followed from a helicopter camera the clergy marching and singing through the streets of Baltimore. Viewers had a chance to see them come to a major intersection and, when seeing a wall of police on the next block, stop to pray before proceeding to march right up to the police as a sign of peace. The clip ended after 10 minutes with the clergy turning the other way and leading the police to another location so they could respond to other needs.
Watching these powerful moments unfold as a local news team covered them made me think: What could such courageous actions on the part of clergy in Baltimore teach the church in other places?
There’s a lot of political and social baggage at play as we continue to watch the unfolding events in Baltimore. And I wouldn’t dare begin to try to explain or sort through it all. However we should all remember that God is calling us, wherever we are, to be a people of peace who give voice to God’s justice of abundant kingdom living for all of God’s children – protesters ... police officers ... everyone. So I thank God for the clergy of Baltimore who stood up and let their prayers be voiced with their lips as well as their feet as they marched for peace and reconciliation. They bore witness to what it truly looks like when disciples, with God’s help, seek to transform the world.
The Rev. Ben Gosden is the senior pastor at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Savannah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.