|Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on April 1, 2021 at 12:25 AM|
This year, Holy Week overlaps with the beginning of the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing Mr. George Floyd, a Black man. Footage is being replayed, witnesses are giving testimonies, and a jury is carefully considering all the evidence.
For some, seeing the video of Officer Chauvin kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd for a full nine minutes, unyielding until fatality occurred, was a wake-up call. The days following Mr. Floyd’s death were filled with pain, protests, rage, grief, learning, soul-searching, and hard conversations. I remember having some of those conversations with several of you and was moved by your vulnerability and the depth of perspectives shared.
Now we have arrived at another moment of national reckoning—will justice prevail? I pray fervently that justice does prevail: for the sake of Mr. Floyd’s family, for the wider community, and for the many hardworking law enforcement personnel who seek to build trust amongst the communities they serve and do their jobs honorably, without excessive force. The coming days may lead us into more pain, more soul-searching, and more difficult discussions. I am bracing myself for this likelihood with frequent prayer and many deep breaths—ironically, the very thing taken from Mr. Floyd.
Today, Christians enter into the most sacred days of the entire year, as we remember how Jesus gathered with his friends on Maundy Thursday to break bread and humbly wash feet, then how he prayed in the garden, was arrested, and was executed on Good Friday, and how his disciples and friends grieved until they discovered the unimaginable, miraculous truth of his resurrection.
Sometimes, we are tempted to gloss over the ugly parts of Christ’s death, to downplay the violence of it and focus only on the redemptive aspects of it. But we do a disservice to the notion of redemption if we do not also recognize and face the horror of the cross. Jesus called out to his mother before succumbing to asphyxiation at the hands of the civil authorities (John 18:26-30). Mr. Floyd also called out for his mama in his last moments of life. Of course, the circumstances are different, and yet, this poignant echo reminds us that in Jesus’s own suffering, there is a universal solidarity he shares with all who suffer. When Jesus’s breath was taken from him on the cross, he demonstrated once and for all that there was no limit to the lengths he was willing to go because of his love for us.
Easter offers the promise that no matter what happened in his life on earth, Mr. Floyd now enjoys a new, resurrected life in the tender arms of the Messiah who suffered for and with him. But even so, the pain and grief felt by his family and his community is real. We have so much work still to do. My hope and prayer this Easter is that we might see more and more signs of resurrection and new life, not only in Heaven, but here on earth as well--in the form of justice, equity, compassion, and love for one another—the kind of love Jesus gave us in the Eucharist and on the cross.
Yours in Christ,