It’s been hard to know how to respond to the news in Baltimore this week. We’ve been bombarded by violent images of rioting and destruction. A short time ago we heard that six police officers will be charged in the death of Freddie Gray, whose funeral was the event which instigated the unrest.
If we are not diligent, once calm has been restored, the re-building begun, and the news trucks have gone home, real issues underlying the unrest in Baltimore and other cities across the United States will be forgotten or ignored.
Poverty. Unemployment. Racism. These are just three of the issues that require our attention.
They certainly attracted Jesus’ attention. When he arrived in his hometown of Nazareth to speak in the synagogue for the first time, he read from the sacred scroll of Isaiah:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
After reading, he closed the scroll and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled.” Jesus understood that his purpose was to bring good news to those who were poor, incarcerated, blind, and oppressed.
Since we claim we are followers of Jesus, we share in that same mission. Our message cannot simply be, “Jesus loves you,” but also “We as followers of Jesus love you too – and we love you too much to allow you to be poor, without work, or to be treated differently because of the color of your skin.”
Let us step out in prayer for Baltimore this Sunday. Step out to pray for the Baltimore community. And also let us step out in prayer for ourselves that we have the courage and commitment to work toward meaningful, long-term solutions.
Step out for Baltimore.