The Fifth Commandment You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.
-Martin Luther’s Small Catechism
+Bishop Jon V. Anderson
I notice I am tempted to go silent in the aftermath of an event like George Floyd’s death because I do not want to say something that increases pain for those already scared, angry or hurt. But I know I need to speak, and we need to speak. We cannot let our fear of failing cause us to go silent. We need to seek to speak faithfully and fruitfully about the needless and senseless death and the chain of impacts that shake through our communities like the shock waves of a bomb. As leaders of communities of faith, we are called to speak and act with wisdom and courage. Trust God to guide you.
I share Martin Luther’s meaning of the Fifth Commandment above. It is helpful as Christian leaders seek to navigate through the risk and choices ahead related to the COVID-19 virus. What Luther teaches in his Large Catechism is even more powerful in speaking into the pain of George Floyd’s death. Read them both with the sin of racism in your mind. It is a sin that leads to deaths of many kinds. It takes personal forms and has deep structural forms. We all have work to do around racism. I do. I continue to listen, read, think, repent, and take action. Join me.
Here is a prayer composed by our staff to help you find words for worship this week, in your own prayer, and in your social media work.
Great God of justice, you make all people in your image and you hear the pleas of the oppressed. Confronted by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, your people stand before you, crying out, “How long, O Lord, will this go on?” Call your church, and all people of good will, to share the outrage that so many feel in these days. Keep us from weak resignation to all that you deplore, especially the privileges of race and distance. Help us pay attention. Help us to speak out. Help us to act. For you, O Lord hear the cries of the oppressed. Tune our ears to hear them as well, now, and always, until that day when your Justice will be fully at work in your creation. We pray in the name of the One who died an unjust death, thirsty and crying out, Jesus the Messiah, your Son. AMEN