Dear North Shore United Methodist Church,
The death of George Floyd last week shook our nation and broke our hearts as a people of faith who both work toward and dream of a day when all sisters and brothers may live in true equality with one another. Such is the Kingdom of God that Jesus prophesied and gave his life on the cross to better realize in our broken world.
Last week reminded us that we remain a far ways off from that reality. George Floyd's death must not be in vain. Will we as a nation finally be roused by this horrible form of violence to work toward a more authentically inclusive society? Friends, the death of George Floyd is not a one-off event or a "statistical anomaly" as some on the news have egregiously claimed. It is a symptom of a much deeper illness present in our nation--one that is ancient in origin and insidious in nature: the sin of racism.
What also broke our hearts were the outbreaks of widespread violence throughout several U.S. cities. These acts of violence are terrible and must be condemned. Jesus modeled for us that resistance/protest to the injustices of our world is appropriate and indeed required of people of faith who are called not to sit by and allow injustice to go unanswered. And, Jesus taught us that we must not cross into the realm of violence to offer resistance/protest. "Put your sword in its place, Peter," Jesus says when he is being arrested (Matthew 26:52). Indeed. the crucifixion itself is Jesus' refusal to respond to the evil of his day with violence, and also his refusal to "do nothing." It is the tough, middle road that calls people's attention to witness the injustices of our world without causing additional harm to others in the process.
This coming Sunday (June 7th), we begin a sermon series focused on claiming the promises of God based on the book "Unshakable Hope" by Max Lucado. My prayer is that this sermon series will help all of us to strengthen our faith by better recognizing how God has, is, and will continue to move powerfully in our everyday lives--just as God has promised to do countless times throughout the Scriptures! Given what has occurred in our nation, I'd like to begin the sermon series with God's promise of "overcoming evil." Please consider joining us this Sunday for a sermon particularly focused our nation's present events and how this connects to our Biblically-grounded hope that the Spirit of God is leading us toward a reality of true, lasting justice and peace--both in the present, and in the days to come.
In the meantime, I'd like to commend to you all the remarkably powerful message our Bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference, Sally Dyck, offered via video (found below this note) just yesterday morning. She explains how the many present issues at play in our nation can be understood from a Biblical perspective to be that an "apocalypse" which reveals a truth to us that we may otherwise not see clearly. I'm confident that you will be blessed by her words.
Scott S. Himel, Senior Pastor
North Shore United Methodist Church