Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Brent Thompson, Lorne Arendt, Patrick Zamrripa, Michael J. Smith, Michael Krol, Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola. These are the names.
We live in the United States of America, a nation with a population of circa 300 million people. You and I will never get to know the names of everyone who lives in this great land. However, during the weeks of July, we became acquainted with the names Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Brent Thompson, Lorne Arendt, Patrick Zamrripa, Michael J. Smith, Michael Krol, Montrell Jackson, Matthew Gerald, and Brad Garafola. You and I may have very lived our lives without knowledge of these 10 names, but three successive days of killing has introduced us to them. For the rest of our lives these names will be a reminder of violence, injustice, racism, revenge, and death.
When saying the names of these 10 people, they become real to us. By saying their names, these 10 people become more than the two African American men killed by the police. By saying their names they are more than the 5 police officers killed in Dallas, and 3 police officers killed in Baton Rogue. Names identify them as someone’s son,brother, husband, or father. By saying and hearing the names of these 10 men, we are reminded that they are real and that their death is real. Their death is real just like the problems that contributed to their deaths.
America we have a problem. As long as I have been alive, I believe that we have had a problem with injustice, race trust, and hate. If you are like me, some where along the line you have either witnessed, or been a victim of some of the above mentioned problems. These problems don’t go away! These are issues that are always begging to be addressed by every generation. These issues are not in a far away place. They are right here on American soil. The issues of injustice, race, distrust, and hate are present in our neighborhoods, communities, and work place. This is not debatable, the above list of names show us how real our issues are. As Christians and Lutherans, how are we to respond?
Recently, a friend of mind, who is a Baptist pastor, spoke to me about a Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was put to death by Nazis. He quoted to me some the writing of Pastor Bonhoeffer concerning the cost of peace. During the course of our conversation he stated that the Lutheran Church seems to know how to stand up for peace, but he didn’t know the names of any Lutherans that were speaking up for peace today. He said to me, “give me the names of those Lutherans that are speaking out on injustice, hate, racism, and distrust.” Are you the right ones to speak,up?
If your church were to compile a list of names of members who were champions in the face of hate, racism, injustice, and distrust, would you be counted in that number?
The name of this publication is the Mid-South Encourager. Can we be the people in the Mid-South who are the encouragers? We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ; but do we have the desire to make a difference? I hope that each of us would use our voice to pray for our nation, and then use that same voice to address hate, injustice, racism, and the like when we see others faced with it. That would put your name on the list of people who care enough to achieve peace.
The list of names that I mentioned at the beginning of this article involve violence, hate, and death. The list that I propose involves hope, faith, dignity, and life. On which list is your name? Our Lord is putting together a list of names in the Lambs Book of Life. May your name be listed with those names about whom our Lord will say, “Well done My good and faithful servant. Well done”.
Pastor Russell Belisle
Cross of Calvary Lutheran Church, Memphis