Right now, there is a city—and a people—on fire.
Hundreds are flooding Minneapolis streets to demand justice for George Floyd: a fiancé, a father, and as of Monday, a fatality. The story is far too familiar. A white police officer stops a black man. A short time later, the white officer kills the black man. Then the white officer walks away free—and the litany of black lives lost grows once more.
George Floyd joined the likes of Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and countless other people of color who paid the ultimate price for existing—for simply existing—in a nation fueled by white supremacy.
Each oppressive act, from hate crimes to housing discrimination to ignoring gasps of “I can’t breathe,” is like a splash of gasoline feeding a fire that has roared for generations. Of course, white supremacy burned people of color long before cell phone videos forced white folks to pay attention.
Now all eyes are on Minneapolis, where stores and cars blaze in protest of social systems so utterly broken, so painfully unjust. The murder of George Floyd fanned the flames of righteous anger already burning in a community forced to fear something as simple as walking down the street.
How could it not? The hurt is raw. The hurt is real. A high school teammate, a woman of color, put it this way in a recent Facebook post: “I am afraid to give birth to a black man in America. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m exhausted.”
In the days leading up to Pentecost, there is a city—and a people—on fire.
Now is the time, socially and liturgically, for us as a church to take fire seriously. The Easter season began 50 days ago with a flame. That was the night “a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.” That was the night we begged the flame to “be found still burning” by Christ the Morning Star who never sets. On the holiest of nights, we committed once more to be people of hope, convicted by a reality hard to believe these days but no less true: Light triumphs over darkness, always.
On Pentecost Sunday, let us call on the fire of the Holy Spirit to ignite the church in our work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, our God who sided with the oppressed always, who flipped tables and demanded reform fiercely, and who breathed his last breath at the hands of a corrupt empire.
In the spirit of Pentecost and in honor of George Floyd and all who died violent deaths, let us commit to extinguishing the fires of white supremacy and policy brutality. With equal fervor, let us also commit to stoking the flames of anti-racism, justice, and love to the ends of the earth.
Come, Holy Spirit. Come quickly.
Image: MD_JERRY on Unsplash