Brothers and Sisters,
George Floyd died a week ago. With all that has transpired since then in Minneapolis, I have been asked to share with you how Ebenezer Lutheran Brethren Church is faring. I want to do that, along with one thought.
As of June 2, the people of Ebenezer are physically whole. In every direction from the church building, there is some type of destruction, but our building is fine. Schools, hospitals, and churches have mostly been spared, but there is still so much devastation. Approximately 250 businesses have been burned, looted, or vandalized across the Twin Cities.
This leads to a lot of questions. I would like to focus on one that has been stuck in my head: What do I have to offer when the history of hurt is so long and the pain so deep? Mr. Floyd died eight blocks from my house. I didn’t know him. I never met him, and yet I’m sad he’s not with us.
In school we are taught to express our opinions. If you want to be heard, your opinion must be based on something solid. It has taken me too many years to learn that, most of the time, my opinion doesn’t matter because it has no solid basis. Finding a solid basis is difficult.
In race relations and law enforcement, many other people’s opinions matter more than mine because they have a solid basis. I’m thankful for them and pray for good things to be birthed through them from this tragedy. In this case, my opinion doesn’t really matter. But the gospel matters. The gospel is not an opinion. It is news. It is good news ready to heal hurting hearts.
Forgiveness of racism, reconciliation with God, and restoration of relationships with each other are fully found only in the solid rock named Jesus Christ. Every other foundation is just a weak opinion tossed around by cultural impulses.
Now what? Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. There is a time to mourn the loss of Mr. Floyd. I’m sad that Mr. Floyd’s tragedy is not an isolated one-time event. I’m sad that many people resonate with the problem of interacting with police. I’m sad others took advantage of this situation to bring destruction to Minneapolis and St. Paul.
There is a time to listen. I’m preparing my heart to hear stories from my neighbors of their experiences living as people of color in Minneapolis. We all know what it is like to not be heard. We also know love and care is so much easier to share with people when we take time to listen to them.
There is a time to tell my own story of reconciliation. I was once God’s enemy and now we know each other as friends. This dramatic change was caused by Jesus Christ. He laid his life down for me. Not only that, he defeated death and I will be with him forever. It’s a miracle. This miracle of reconciliation is happening already.
I, myself, have nothing to offer in this current crisis. But the gospel of Jesus Christ offers it all.
The fields are ripe for harvest in these beautiful cities. “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38, ESV).
Blessings to you and your loved ones,
Rev. Andrew C. Larsen
Ebenezer Lutheran Brethren Church