“Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
Police Captain Bruno died this month on September 11th, 19 years after he and hundreds of first responders ran towards danger. The intense sorrow of 9/11 continues as we move toward next year’s 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Captain Bruno died of lung cancer from complications brought on by the smoldering ruins of that day. Spending his days at “Ground Zero,” digging out buddies and trying to give his all, finally took its toll. The lung cancer caused by the toxic environment of the rubble began to manifest itself a few short months after the attacks. Bruno fought a valiant fight but death found this good and brave man 19 years later.
New York City police, firefighters, and EMTs were then heralded as heroes--celebrated on and off duty and honored throughout New York City. Today is quite different. The NYPD are routinely taunted, spit upon, shot, threatened, ambushed, murdered and defunded. The real bravery now is when first responders continue to show up and do their duty.
The world we live in now has a recklessness about it. Important public protests call our attention to race issues, which do need to be addressed and confronted with an honest sense of purpose and reconciliation. However, as I speak to young and older people alike, I find many walls of hostility and misunderstanding—walls of judgment and fear, where anxiety abounds.
We who follow Jesus should be the forerunners of reconciliation and hope. We who know the “Prince of Peace” can become ambassadors of reconciliation and champions of the atonement of the Cross. We should be building bridges where we can agree on common ground. Let us aim for love and mercy to be the common denominators, rather than power, accusations, and fear. Let us maintain real friendships, where communion can take place, despite our differences of opinion.
Recently I held a Zoom conference with a number of African American young people. They all knew me well and were quite comfortable sharing their sorrows and honest concerns. One poignant comment from a young man I had coached in rugby 10 years ago went something like this...”Coach, you know how white folks are walking on egg shells trying to deal with race stuff right now? Well that’s how we black people have felt our whole lives....like we are always walking on egg shells.”
Maybe all of us need to start conversations between people of different racial backgrounds so that we might work to understand each other more and how to move forward, and to learn how in the name of our Savior to say to one another “I love you, and will you forgive me.” Building bridges is so much more fulfilling than holding anger and judgments which offer no hope for peace or reconciliation.
Relating to these current issues, the Lord’s words still hold true: “Come to me all of you who are heavy burdened and I shall give you rest.”
Let us ask the Lord for strength to love others as He loves us...so that the world might know that we are followers of Christ, by the love we have for one another.
Praying for a way forward....