A Message from Rev. Laurie  in the Wake of this Week’s Murders in  Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and D

Dear Grace Family, The night before last I was pulled over by a policeman on my way home and I had no idea why. When the squad car lights flashed behind me I was in a panic, not because I was afraid of the officer but because I didn’t have my up-to-date insurance card with me. The officer was friendly as he explained that he stopped me because I didn’t have my headlights on. He told me to find my current paperwork, made sure my headlights actually worked and sent me on my way. I drove on gratefully, but it was the moment I started to let the police killings of yet two more black men sink in. If I was a black man how scared would I have been when the blue, red and white lights flashed in my rear view mirror? And then there was Friday morning’s news: Police officers Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa and seven more wounded officers became the next victims of gun violence as they protected people protesting police brutality in the wake of the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. At Grace’s Friday morning Bible study we have been reading The Book of Revelation. Revelation scares us. With symbols and poetry it describes our world as being in complete rebellion against its Creator. While the God of Genesis created us to embrace mutuality and freedom we worship security through domination and vengeance against those who wrong us. But Revelation claims emphatically that the world will not be in rebellion forever. God will bring it back, kicking a screaming, to the only One who has a rightful claim upon our allegiance: King Jesus. If you believe this even during times like these your life will be harder. Your king requires love of the enemy. Jesus will not bless hate, sanctify anyone’s violence and he offers no loop holes. That’s because in the real world, God’s world, there is no “them”; there is only your sister and your brother. Our life in Christ compels us to remember this especially now. For us, swearing allegiance to fear and hate is off the table. In the agony of a world that worships death we are called to militant forgiveness, creativity, and life giving acts of love. In what is known as the “mini apocalypse” in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about God being like a Master who has charged his servants with the task of caring for his house while he is away and he tells the servants to keep watch. Jesus concludes that story with a warning not to let the real master of the house return and find us asleep. The passage ends with Jesus saying, “What I say to you I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:37) The world belongs to God. Don’t be mesmerized into hopelessness or lulled into hate. And even when that costs you, remember the one for whom it cost everything. Keep watch with the eyes of your heart. Rev. Laurie

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Grace Church Van Vorst  | 39 Erie Street  |  Jersey City, NJ 07302  |  Phone: 201-659-2211  |  office@gracevanvorst.org