GREATER THAN OUR PAIN

Elijah Cummings 1951-2019I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

 

We lost a beloved leader last month. United States Congressman from Maryland Elijah Cummings, a sharecropper’s son and civil rights champion, died on October 17, 2019 at the age of sixty-eight. Cummings’ booming bass voice was a beacon for the poor in his black-majority district of Baltimore. Amid partisan politics, Cummings challenged his fellow legislators to “stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior.” He believed deeply in our nation’s democratic government, which George Washington called “the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

 

Those who knew Cummings understood that he endured much physical pain. In 2017, Cummings underwent a minimally invasive heart procedure, which led to an infection that kept him in the hospital longer than expected. He was later hospitalized for a knee infection. During his last days in Washington, he moved with obvious difficulty, using a cane and a walker. Following his death, his body was brought to the Capitol rotunda for public respects to be paid. Many prominent dignitaries, including two presidents, spoke at Cummings memorial service. But to me, the one who best described Cummings was his own congressional aide, Harry Spikes. Traveling together, Spikes and his mentor-boss spent many hours talking and sharing their perspectives. Spikes reported that Cummings never seemed to experience pain when he was speaking publicly about his passion for our democracy, human rights and the marginalized in our society. He told Spikes: “Remember to be greater than your pain.” At one of his last speaking opportunities, the topic was religion and racism. The crowd stood when he entered the room. Humbled, Cummings said, “I am going to stand up for you until I die.” He kept that promise.

 

Cummings had a profound faith in God and in our democracy. We can look to the words of the Apostle Paul to inspire us to follow the congressman. Like Cummings, Paul spoke of a future bright with promise in Jesus Christ. In Romans 8, Paul says, “those who live according to the Spirit (of Christ) set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” This is the key to life and peace.

 

Father God, we thank You for “the great cloud of witnesses” like Elijah Cummings who have gone before us. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

THE JELLINEK CURVE

JellinekCurve860x655No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but…He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Dr. E.M. Jellinek studied alcoholism, addiction and mental health continuously from the 1930’suntil his death in 1963. Thanks to Jellinek’s acute interest in the personal drinking histories of many subjects, the doctor sought to educate the public about the gradual descent into oblivion that chronic alcoholics experience. His “Jellinek Curve” illustrates these deteriorating alcoholic behaviors, as well as the corresponding healthy behaviors when an alcoholic chooses sobriety. It is no coincidence that the “Curve” shows a beginning, a descent into the bottom of the curve, and a not-so-easy climb back out of the depths of addiction.

 

Chronic addictive behaviors, including alcohol and drug addiction as well as gambling, overeating, spending, sexual deviances, and many other obsessions, are indeed diseases (a condition that prevents the mind and body from working normally), and they are progressive (becoming increasingly worse without intervention to stop the process). But one hallmark of these compulsions is that recovery begins with a conscious choice to change. When I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, I am always struck by my own shortcomings. The passage brings me up short when I realize that I can, with God’s help, resist any and all temptations that befall me. I am not chemically dependent, but I have loved and lived with and lost more alcoholics than I care to remember. And I know it is not so easy for them to accept God’s help to end the cycle of addiction.

 

Does 1 Corinthians 10:13 apply to addictions? Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. said men and women who abuse substances “have not only been mentally and physically ill, (they) have been spiritually sick.” Many of the most successful addiction treatment programs include faith and spirituality. Clearly, an addicted person needs a profound change of thinking about herself to achieve sobriety, and one time-honored path to positive self-awareness is faith in God. As with any major life transition, support from friends, family, and society—including our faith communities—can improve the journey away from addiction.

 

Healing Lord, touch those with addictions where they need Your help. Restore them to wholeness. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

LIVING WATER

Living Water“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John 4:14

 

My husband Patrick can fix and build most anything. He is handy with carpentry, mechanics, electrical, assembly, and just plain trouble-shooting problems around our property. The one thing that seems to defeat him is plumbing. “Electricity is either on or off,” he says. “Engines either work or they don’t. Carpentry takes a good eye and even better measurements.” While I would give up before I even took a serious look at a project, he tackles tasks fearlessly. “But plumbing,” he says, “is a different bearcat. You think you’ve followed all the necessary steps carefully, but you turn on the water and…there’s still a leak!” Water, he believes, has a life of its own.

 

Water is a substance like no other. Water is absolutely essential to life: 55 to 78% of the human body is made of water. The most abundant substance on this planet, water comprises nearly one fourth of the earth’s mass. Ninety-eight percent of that water fills our oceans. And oceans are rising at an alarming rate due to global warming. The city of Venice, Italy, is suffering from an all-time high-water level largely due to melting ice caps thousands of miles away. Some inhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean are in danger of sinking into the sea, and their populations will become “climate refugees.” Even Isle de Jean Charles, a narrow island in the bayous of southeastern Louisiana is slowly sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. Water will have its own way.

 

Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well about the “living water” that He alone can give. This “living water” is the life-essence of Christ that He offers to anyone who believes in Him. The “living water” will find the lowest point in our lives and fill that place with light and healing. Christ’s Spirit will flow into us, lift us from a place of despair and provide us with eternal life, starting right here, right now. Yes, the “living water” of Christ has a life of its own and it is ours for the taking.

 

Lord Jesus, water can be deadly but Your “living water” gives us life abundantly and eternally. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

CAREFULLY TAUGHT

Carefully TaughtThere is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

 

“How would you distill your thoughts, experiences or observations about race into one sentence (of) six words?” This is the challenge given by former National Public Radio host Michele Norris with The Race Card Project. People are encouraged to condense their observations and experiences about race into one sentence with just Six Words. Since it began in 2010, the Project has received tens of thousands of Six Word stories from throughout the world. One entry was: “You’ve got to be carefully taught,” which has special meaning for me.

 

Those six words are the title of a song from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific,” a popular Broadway musical and movie in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. This production told of cross-cultural love affairs in the South Pacific during World War II. Two threads of my life intertwined to make me acutely aware of the lyrics of the song: one, my forward-thinking high school music director chose “South Pacific” as a school production my senior year, 1964. And two, I was simultaneously being raised by racially prejudiced parents. While my part in the musical was only a small one, the impact the story line had on me was profound.

 

In one of two uncomfortable relationships in the musical, Caucasian actor John Kerr sang the song to his Asian lover, played by France Nuyen. In an attempt to explain to her how their respective races cast a dark shadow on their relationship, Kerr sings, “You’ve got to be carefully taught/to hate and fear/you’ve got to be taught/from year to year/it’s got be drummed in your dear little ear/you’ve got to be carefully taught.” The portrayal of this risky relationship raised eyebrows and hackles at the time. Parents of my classmates—and my own parents—thought the characters were too controversial for impressionable teenagers to portray. The music director persevered and the show went on.

 

Today, there is a resurgence of hatred of “the other” rising in the world. Jesus never intended for us “to be carefully taught” to hate people of other races. Our Lord mandates us to love others as He loves each of us.

 

Jesus, carefully teach us tolerance and unconditional love for all humankind. Amen

LEMONADE STANDS

A lemonade stand for 25 cents a cup

A classic summer lemonade stand.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3

 

During this pandemic, I really miss lemonade stands! Children selling lemonade to passers by is one of the sweetest, purest things in our society. I have been known to slam on my brakes (while looking carefully in all directions) and even turning around and going back to stop at a lemonade stand. I never pass them by, no matter how late I may be for an appointment or how many errands I have to run that day. Plus, I love lemonade, even if it’s watered down and slightly warm.

 

I cherish and honor this tradition, because it says so much about the family behind the project. Kids can’t sell lemonade on their own! There has to be a collaborative effort between them and their parents, or at least some older, responsible (and loving) siblings or even grandparents. Somebody has to buy the lemonade, cups and napkins. Pitchers have to be rounded up, and some sort of a “store” set up. An adult has to go get some cash, and the child has to be shown how to count money and make change. Will there be treats too? Who will bake or buy them? Will the child need to reimburse the parents for supplies? Somebody has to take time to help the child get set up in her new enterprise, provide encouragement for the operation, and be on hand when it’s over. A lemonade stand doesn’t just happen by itself. It’s a family effort, something to cheer about, something to support. It’s an American institution and it’s my civic duty to be involved. Cue the marching band!

 

Proverbs 22:6 says parents should “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” And the Apostle Paul advises his protégé Timothy, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8). It’s clear that Jesus believed children held the keys to the Kingdom of God: their innocence, their trusting, their simplicity were all traits Christ recognized in His teaching (Matthew 7:11 and 11:25). I believe God would approve of lemonade stands and how they help keep families together.

 

Father in Heaven, we praise You for providing guidance so families make good memories together. Amen

 

Good News! Meg Corrigan’s weekly blogs will soon be in a second daily devotional book, Saints With Slingshots TWO: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. The book is expected to be completed and on the market by December 2020! Watch for more information when the book is available!

BETTER…NOT NORMAL

Coronavirus Visits

Guest Writer: Donna Mathiowetz

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose. Romans 8:28

 

When Covid – 19 hit it was as if a switch was turned off and almost everything changed overnight. Non-essential businesses were closed and students finished their current school year by way of “distance learning.” Many adults were now working from home. Restaurants were struggling to keep their establishments afloat by way of curbside service. The city playgrounds in many communities were surrounded by bright orange construction fencing. The implications go on and on.

 

For me, I was grieving for all those who are no longer receiving the personal support they need after the death of a loved one. There are no groups meeting as churches and all community gathering venues are closed. If you didn’t know what Zoom was before, almost everyone, including me, became very familiar with the newest way to gather. Some, but not all of the speaking engagements that were on my calendar after March 15 converted to Zoom meetings. Yes, I could see the faces and hear their voices, but it wasn’t the same for any of us. I missed the personal connections and the ability to hold their hand and give them a hug. Outside of our homes, the best we could do was to remain six feet apart, wearing a mask. Funerals were restricted to no more than ten people present, six feet apart. If their loved ones were residents of a care facility, the family wasn’t allowed to visit, except through a pane of glass. Many who had become ill enough to need hospitalization were also alone, with no visitors allowed in. The long-term implications of the collective repressed grief will be with us for years to come.

I am trying to follow my own advice for self-care. Taking long, brisk walks and riding my bike became my way of relieving the stress that I felt. I spent time each morning reading my devotions and Bible. I journaled and stayed in touch by phone with friends who were supportive and loving. This was a world-wide event, and I only sense what it has done to my little corner of this big blue planet. The fear was almost palpable as I encountered others at the grocery store and around town. The masks covered their nose and mouth, but not their eyes. The eyes often display fatigue, worry and anger, along with fear. People seemed hesitant to look at each other, much less speak a word of encouragement or hope. Kindness seems to be waning, replaced by judgment for some who choose not to wear a mask in public. However, through it all I remember my life verse.

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose. Romans 8:28

I’d like to encourage you to think about those you know who have been on their own journey of grief during these challenging times. Isolation is always a factor when you’re suffering from a loss and the pandemic has magnified this even more. Even though we saw the term “services pending”, we know that grief doesn’t. So, please make it a point to reach out that someone you know who may really need a listening ear with the understanding that their grief has been delayed but it didn’t just dissipate.

 

So, like almost everyone else, we grieve what seems to have been lost in

all this and wonder what it will mean in the future.

Let’s not go back to normal, but to better.

 

Donna Mathiowetz is an inspirational speaker and author of “A Journal for Your Journey”. Her passion is to help others as they navigate the losses in life resulting from the death of a loved one, health issues, and loss of independence, broken dreams, and other life events.  She helps others to build their resiliency muscles, giving them the ability to bend but not break in the storms of life.  Donna shares her own story of loss, teaches from what she has learned and seeks to inspire others to do more than survive, but instead thrive and look for ways to help others along the way. Donna is a wife, mom and grandmother. She lives in Hastings MN Email: donna@UnfinishedByDesign.com

Website: www.UnfinishedByDesign.com

FB, IG, LinkedIn @ Unfinished by Design

FROM SEA TO SHINING PARKING LOT

Citizenship drivethroughMay the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. Psalm 67:4

 

The Corona virus pandemic has changed just about everything in the United States, including how people are sworn in as citizens of our nation. Steve Hartman reported on CBS this weekend that “Immigrants who’ve completed all the requirements of citizenship are pulling into parking lots from San Diego, to Des Moines, to Detroit for socially distant naturalization ceremonies.” Drive-thru citizenship ceremonies? Well, in this time of social distancing and health experts’ recommendations not to hold large gatherings to keep from spreading the virus, being sworn in as a new citizen while sitting in your car has been the next best option. One such immigrant, Kwame Asante is from Ghana and came to the U.S. forty years ago. “Just to be an American is like close to paradise,” he told Hartman. “It’s given me so many opportunities.” Asante is a respiratory therapist, one of the “essential workers” smack in the middle of the pandemic. “He says he’s not scared,” Hartman reported, “now that he’s a proud American. ‘Even if I die today,’ Asante says, ‘I’m OK.’”

 

As a counselor in Minnesota’s state college system for three decades, I was honored to assist students from several dozen nations. They came on student visas, as war refugees, or directly through the immigration process, but most had one common goal: to start a new life in a nation filled with opportunity. I have heard their stories of coming from countries rife with hardship, loss, tragedy, and complete disregard for their human rights. Many endured years in refugee camps with deplorable conditions. What must it have been like to step off an airplane or a ship and take their first look at this proud land which has practiced “the great experiment” called Democracy for nearly two and a half centuries? I was humbled to be at their service during their time at the colleges where I worked.

 

This Fourth of July, I am reminded that, unless we are one hundred percent Native American, we are all immigrants. Remember Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), calling this “the second greatest commandment” after loving our Lord.

 

Healing Lord, let us continue to be a nation welcoming immigrants and making them part of “us”. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. Meg has written a Christian devotional blog for several years that has been read in over 40 countries by 9000 people. A compilation of blogs, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, was published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she has hopes of completing by Christmas, 2020. Her first book, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, is a memoir about her childhood with an alcoholic mother and a co-dependent father. The book also chronicles Meg’s astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding rapist, a tragedy turned holy, a powerful message of hope in her darkest hour. Meg is a retired college counselor and former social worker. Meg enjoys spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg and her husband Patrick play and sing in the contemporary worship band at their church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. She also volunteers with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

SADNESS

SadnessBe gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. Psalm 31:9

 

I am incredibly sad. As I write this, the Covid-19 cases and deaths are on the rise again, after many states in the US opened up many public venues against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control. As I embraced my sadness, I began to think how much worse the situation is for others in our nation—and in the world—than it is for my husband and me. We are retired, and although we are at higher risk to contract the Coronavirus because of our age and some underlying health conditions, we do not have to leave our home to do much of anything. We can order groceries from home and stay away from public gatherings, plus we have sufficient retirement income so we do not need to work at this point in our lives. We are truly blessed. Others are not so fortunate: they may be forced to work as an “essential employee” and they have many more worries and responsibilities than we do. So…if I’m sad, I cannot imagine the anguish some others are experiencing now. Add to that the current racial unrest following the murders of a number of innocent Black citizens at the hands of police, and we have a powder keg of sorrow, fear and anxiety on top of the pandemic.

 

As I thought about all these people and what they are going through, I was reminded of a favorite Christian song of mine, “Held” written by Christa Wells and first recorded by Natalie Grant. The lyrics relate unspeakable tragedy in the lives of those who have suffered greatly. The chorus reminds us that God is always there and that His promise is to hold us in our darkest hour. The moving words of the song continue: “This is what it means to be held/How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life/And you survive.” For those of us enduring the triple catastrophe of the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the deep-seated racist issues facing our nation, we can know that our God cares and is holding us up when we don’t believe we have the energy to stand.

 

Great God of Compassion, hold us when we are too weak to go on. Amen

 

To listen to the song, “Held” performed by Natalie Grant, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJhsexd8Qqg

PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS

St. Teresa of AvilaBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

 

Am I a priestess? It’s hard to imagine that of myself, but that is what the Bible tells us in 1 Peter. We are to be “like living stones, let (ourselves) be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v. 5). Hebrews 4:16 says we are to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help (others and ourselves) in time of need.” The people of ancient Israel were God’s special “chosen people” (Deuteronomy 7:6). But through Christ, all believers are now “God’s own people.” He has given us the authority to appeal directly to Him with all the privileges of a priest. We no longer need a human religious leader to intervene for us; because of Christ’s saving work, we can ask God for what we need openly.

 

“Sainthood” might be the closest thing to “royal priesthood” that we have in our modern world. Although I am not a member of the Catholic church, I am often comforted by learning about women who have been named saints. The Catholic church’s process to determine sainthood requires extensive documentation that the person has performed at least two miracles in her lifetime. I believe in miracles, and I believe that those who live exemplary earthly lives dedicated to service to God are miracles within themselves. Reading about their lives gives me hope in both humankind and God. I am encouraged that certain human beings have found favor with God and humankind. Perhaps there is hope for me in the small things I try to do and say (“spiritual sacrifices”) to encourage others. I do this not just to “be polite,” but to fulfill God’s purpose for me. While I may never be anointed with sainthood, I can recall the words of 1 Peter 2:9 and know that I am valued in God’s sight as one of His “priesthood of believers.”

 

Father of Light, we proclaim Your mighty acts because You created us to do so. We belong to You forever. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

EZEKIEL AND THE DRY BONES

Valley of the Dry BonesHe brought me out by the spirit of the Lord…in the middle of a valley…full of bones. There were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3

 

“Not quite two weeks after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, it (was) already clear that what happened to him—and the protests that followed—will be in history books someday,” reported Time Magazine. “The moment is not only a striking turning point in an ongoing Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, but also set apart by a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans.” The questions remained: how long would the protests continue, and would there be real, sustainable, systemic change in the way police interact with the black and brown populations in the United States? I am standing on God’s promise that love will overcome hate and peace will replace outrage.

 

The story of Ezekiel and his vision of the dry bones has some parallels with the George Floyd killing and the world’s reaction. The ruthless Babylonians destroyed the temple in Ezekiel’s hometown of Jerusalem in about 587BC. The Israelites were discouraged and thought God was not powerful enough to protect his chosen people. But God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley of skeletons and instructed Ezekiel to prophesy hope to the bones. Flesh and sinews appeared on the bones and God breathed physical and spiritual life into them. The vision meant that the Israelites would survive the oppression they were experiencing. More importantly, the people would survive because of God’s power and love for them throughout their dismal circumstances.

 

Ezekiel’s story became popular among black preachers after the Civil War. James Weldon Johnson even wrote a song, “Dem Bones,” which became an anthem for early black social movements. And today, we see the Black Lives Matter movement engaging the entire world in support of humane treatment for people of color. God can put new life in those who have been oppressed far too long. Let us all work towards a world of zero oppression.

 

Lord, speak to the weary bones and hearts and souls of the oppressed. Let them feel Your resurrecting power. Amen