CLC Blog

in Prayer

100,000 Deaths

We've surpassed the 100,000 deaths milestone in the United States. It's time for a moment of silence as we recognize the terrible loss COVID-19 continues to cause across our land.

(silence)

Holy God, comfort all who are grieving loved ones, all who are dying, all who don't know what the future will bring. Protect the vulnerable. Strengthen health care workers and all essential workers in harm's way. Guide our leaders toward wise recommendations, and our country to wise behavior. Inspire scientists with breakthroughs in treatment and vaccines.  Amen.

The scary thing is we likely surpassed 100,000 deaths weeks ago. The average death rate in each state is reportedly much higher than what's currently attributable to COVID-19 deaths. For the first 19 weeks of 2020 Florida has reported about 2300 more deaths due to pneumonia than average over the last five years. If that's happening around the country because sometimes COVID-19 tests are coming back as false negatives, then we're going to discover the true death toll of COVID-19 is much higher than we think.

There will continue to be hard days ahead despite our desire to resume "normal" life. Be safe. Be kind. Know that you are loved unconditionally by God, who desires nothing but good for you.

 

George Floyd Should Still Be Alive

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George Floyd should still be alive. He should still be able to talk with his family and neighbors and friends. But instead, he’s dead. He’s the victim of murder, civil rights violations, and hate crime, yet another victim of police brutality. 

More broadly, he’s another victim of white privilege and white fragility that continues to haunt our entire country and culture. It needs to stop. It’s needed to stop for years. But it needs to stop.

Watch the video of the killing that was taken by a bystander. You can find it here. Then read the police statement, quoted here from the New York Times: “ ‘He was ordered to step from his car,’ the department’s statement said. ‘After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.’ The statement said that officers called for an ambulance and that the man was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, ‘where he died a short time later.’”

Four police officers, including the officer shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck, have been fired. The FBI is investigating. These are all positive things.

But I wonder: what if there was no bystander video? What if all we had was the police statement and descriptions from bystanders? Who would you believe? Who would I believe? The police statement issued before the bystander video went viral sounds like it was about a different incident. That’s how much inertia systemic racism has – our culture and institutions immediately surround and protect the perpetrators of violence.  Instead of helping a suffering and dying man being murdered right in front of them, fellow officers protect the murderers. They try to prevent the video from being taken. They intimidate the gathering crowd. 

All of this is unjust. It is evil. It is unchristian. It is sinful. There is no excuse. “Forgery in progress” is not a capital crime. Neither is resisting arrest, nor anything else they can try to blame the victim for. It. Needs. To. Change.

We need to change. We, speaking as a white person of privilege, need to confess our racism. We need to have uncomfortable conversations.

We need to break down the structures that protect and promote racism and murder until we find justice in the bedrock. From that point, God willing, with all voices participating, God can build a better world. 

Pray with me: God, comfort the family and friends of George Floyd. Send your Spirit into our lives and help us to be honest. Give us courage to face the racism that festers within us, within our church, within our community. Build a more just society. Amen.

Waiting for Signs

We are nearly to the end of another 40 Days and 40 Nights…from my own timeline, today marks Day 76 since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and as I wrote a while ago, biblically, 40 days means a “long, long” time. And now here we are almost through a second “long, long” time. Perhaps you’re restless and impatient…especially with summer now officially upon us. So much has been canceled: music festivals, the state fair, youth sports and camps…everywhere we look, nothing is the same. We want to get back “out there”…we want things to be “normal again”…we want to gather again for picnics, July 4th, parades, and for so many of us worship face to face and in person.

This makes me think of the story of Noah and the flood. I imagine that Noah and his family wanted to get off that ark as well. We often think of the rain for 40 days and 40 nights, but miss how long the wait was to get off the ark. When we read the account in Genesis 7 and 8, not only did the flood continue for 40 days but the “waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days” (Genesis 7:24).

“Then God remembered Noah, his family and all of the animals, the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters gradually receded from the earth. At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, the ark came to rest on the mountains Ararat. The waters continued to abate until the tenth month and in the tenth month, the tops of the mountains appeared.” (Genesis 8:1-5)

Are you keeping count? 40 days of rain, 150 days of water swelling on the earth, another 150 days of water abating and 3 months (90 days) after that, the tops of the mountains appeared. And then there was another 40 days before Noah opened the window of the ark to send out a raven…then more waiting and a dove was sent out. That dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf (verse 10) and then another wait of 7 days and the dove sent out…this time, it did not return.

This pandemic is a long process, dear friends. Just because the restrictions are loosening a bit does not mean that the virus is gone. We are not yet on that dry land. We are still in the 150 days of water swelling on the earth. If we try to return to what had been normal, it will be like jumping out of that ark into the water. We need to wait and heed the signs we are being given, just as Noah watched for the signs that it was safe to leave the ark.

Even more important than the passage of time is this from Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and all the domestic animals that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” God remembers ALL of us during this time and God will breathe on all of us, assuring us of God’s presence and action to protect, save and bless us through these stressful and demanding times. Be patient, friends. Watch for the signs. Pray for strength and compassion to endure. God remembers us.

Peace to all of you. Be well. Stay safe,

Pastor Kisten

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