No Repentance No Peace

(Originally offered as the opening speech for the “March for Peace and Equality” May 30, 2020, Crawfordsville, Indiana)

George Floyd

Ahmaud Arbery

Dreasjon Reed

Breonna Taylor

 

We know these names because we read about them in the news. Some of them we heard or saw their murder. Four people with unrepeatable lives, families, friends, neighbors, a life ahead – but we know them as names on a long, long, too long list of names  – casualties of racism or police violence. It’s a long list because it goes back centuries and reveals a sickness – a sin that we as America have still not repented of – still not been healed of.

 

George Floyd 

Ahmaud Arbery

Dreasjon Reed

Breonna Taylor

 

These names have sparked debate, side taking, protest, and even more violence. Perhaps these names have wedged divisions between you and someone you love – because facing the reality that we still have a race problem in America and calling it out is something that causes deep reaction. Why? Because it is easier to live in denial. It is easier to immediately look for reasons why these deaths can be explained or justified. But that is denial. And like the addict, until we acknowledge there is a problem, and that it is a deep one, that is not just “fixed” with virtue signaling or tokenism, then we remain in the cycle. We remain sick. 

 

George Floyd

Ahmaud Arbery

Dreasjon Reed

Breonna Taylor

My faith teaches me that these are children of God, made in His image and likeness, beloved. The Apostle Paul tells us that the Lord made all from one blood (Acts 17:26) and we learn from scriptures, and from the example of Jesus especially that God is not a respecter of persons. You see in God’s eyes all lives do matter, As a Christian I want to believe that in America all lives matter. But I have eyes…. and the evidence is sorely lacking. Which is why we must say Black Lives Matter – because it is the word America needs to hear. As a child of God who is also a son of America it is a word I need to hear. Black Lives Matter because the bottom line is we still live in a time and place where that is not always self-evident. 

George Floyd

Ahmaud Arbery

Dreasjon Reed

Breonna Taylor

These names call us to repentance today. I believe the problem we have is a deeply spirital one that is rooted in our American original sin of racism which bore the bitter fruit of genocide of so many native peoples, slavery, jim crow, lynching, and yes.. now the new radicalization of white nationalism and a system of police brutality. I want to make clear. Dealing with this sickness is not anti-police, because a system that dehumanizes anyone dehumanizes everyone – including those who carry out the system. Police officers are persons too. They are more than their job, more than the system they are in. 

So today is a call for peace – but peace must also come with justice. Peace must come with repentance. For those in privilege it is a call to listen… and then listen.. and then listen again. It is a call to push back when you hear those ‘white discussions’ where racism still lingers, even ‘jokingly’. It is a call for reform of the training, vetting, and tactics of police so we don’t have to keep doing this. 

I’m tired of this. But I cannot imagine how tired my black, brown, LGBTQ, other minority neighbors feel. When I walk out the door as a white, straight, married hometown male there are many things I don’t even have to consider that they do – just to do ordinary things in life. It is my call to the privileged to be vigilant and aware of this, and aware of racism in their circles, neighborhood, community. 

To repent is to turn to the light, away from the darkness. To repent is to see things how they really are, how God sees it, not through the blindness of our own condition. God loves and weeps at the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor and the countless names killed by the sick system we created and we perpetuate. 

George Floyd 

Ahmaud Arbery

Dreasjon Reed

Breonna Taylor

Say their names. Say Black Lives Matter, for only when black lives matter can all lives matter.  Don’t turn away. Don’t live in denial. Turn towards the light, the truth that heals.  Its a matter of life and death for so many.