A momentous day in our nation's history. We had an example today of justice being served for a black man and his family. The verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder case provides hope. Paraphrasing the prosecutor's closing argument, "The defense said that George Floyd died because his heart was too big. The evidence shows that Mr. Floyd died because Derek Chauvin's heart was too small."
Yet it's hard to feel joy at this time. I hurt for Derek Chauvin and his family and his future.
There is much work to be done to create a just society. Let's pray for justice for people of color, for all people. Let's pray for police officers. They have a very hard job. Let's pray for George Floyd's family. Let's pray for Derek Chauvin and for his family. Let's pray for all who are incarcerated.
When I was in seminary I trained for a semester as a chaplain in a prison. It was eye-opening. Before I went to seminary I had considered taking a position with Prison Fellowship (Chuck Colson's prison ministry). I have always had a heart for inmates. In each church I have served, probably as in every church, there have been church members or family members who have experienced life in prison. It is my experience that many persons aren't aware of how many people they know who have been incarcerated, and how many families they are connected to who have been touched by prison life. I have learned much from those who have been locked up or who have had loved ones in prison. It is a privilege in my position to hear things that are often kept hidden from others. In each church I have served there have also been those who faithfully visit, write to, and pray for inmates. I encourage everyone to add to your daily prayers those who are incarcerated, those who work in our prisons and in our justice system, and those who are working for prison reform.
Our society throws away people who get convicted or plead to crimes. Our society treats them as if, and often believes, that they are of lesser value. We often don't think much about them at all. We don't see them because they are behind closed doors. We think their lives are not connected to ours. Many people don’t have much awareness of how inmates are treated. Lots of education is needed to bring about the will to improve our justice system.
I want to share with you a small example to make incarceration more personal. This example happened last week at a "nice" prison facility to a man with whom I am acquainted. He did not have any bedding for three days. Then he received one sheet and one blanket. He has been in the same clothes, shirt, pants, and underwear, for over a week. He was told he could not have any toiletries because they are "out of stock" and "it may take three weeks to get them." He was also told that all of his clothes and personal belongings, that were supposed to be inventoried and returned to him, were lost or stolen.
I support Bryan Stevenson's life-changing work and the organization he founded, Equal Justice Initiative, for many reasons, one of which is that it does an excellent job of educating the public about the inhumane treatment that exists in our justice system.
The Bible teaches us that everyone is made in the image of God, has value, and is loved unconditionally.
No one deserves to have a knee on their neck.
No one deserves to be treated as if they are throw away trash when they are locked up.
All people are God's children.
Prayers for our world, our country, our justice system, those who do wrong, those who sentence them, those who guard them, and those who have the energy and will to be light-bearers and creators of justice and joy.