A Prayer: “I Can’t Breathe” (Eric Garner)

 “I Can’t Breathe” (Eric Garner) -Reverend Dr. David Johnson Rowe

“You are all one in Christ:

neither Jew nor Greek

slave nor free

male nor female.”  (The Bible, Galatians 3:28)

The recent deaths of young black men at the hands of police have revealed divisions we thought were behind us.  Can we heal?

Jesus’ ministry is sometimes called “the Upside Down Kingdom.”  He challenges perceptions, assumptions, traditions, authorities, excuses, law, and even religion.  He dares everyone to a new way of thinking and being.  St. Paul summarized it with the above verse.  Paul covers race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and gender, and tells us to rise above it all.  If we are one in Christ we see the whole world in a new way.

I just got a check for $141 from Toyota – the settlement amount paid to car owners from a class-action suit.  There is nothing wrong with my car.  But there have been enough problems with Toyota that the courts made them make amends to all of us.

A frivolous comparison, but think with me.  When we look at cases like Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Akai Gurley, there is always an excuse.  Lots of “ifs.”  Lots of “would, coulda, shoulda.”  We think, “if only Michael Brown had…”  Or, “the Staten Island Police shoulda…”  Enough of these cases should give us all pause.  But if Toyota can “man up” enough to admit some errors affect their whole world, we Americans can surely have the courage to welcome a new way of doing and being – from police to community to citizens to youth to churches.

We’re about to celebrate Christmas.  A couple of months later Jesus will be on the cross on Good Friday.  Two days later we’ll rejoice in Easter.  Life is like that.

Jesus’ Good Friday is a useful lesson.  Everything about his death was perfectly legal, done according to policy.  Yet the outcome was still wrong.  We choose to make GOOD come out of a really Bad Friday.  But only Easter and Christmas make that possible.  It took a miracle to make it Good Friday.

Let’s ask God to work a miracle in America: to heal wounds, bridge divisions, change hearts, and save us all.  The following is taken from scripture and hymns.

My Prayer for America’s Crossroads

“Create in me a clean heart,” dear God.

“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” dear God.

“Let them who are without sin cast the first stone,” dear God.

“Lead us not into temptation,” dear God.

“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us,” dear God.

“Forgive even those who know not what they are doing,” dear God.

“Wipe away every tear from eyes,” dear God.

“Let justice roll down like the waters,” dear God.

“Let us love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with you,” dear God.

“There is a balm in Gilead,” dear God.

“There is a peace which passeth all understanding,” dear God.

We are our “brother’s keeper,” dear God.

We “believe, help our unbelief,” dear God.

Amen.