Hello all! I hope this letter finds you and your family safe and secure this winter. The Lord knows many of us are feeling unsettled with what is happening around us, or dealing with personal struggle or tragedy. The Lord’s peace and grace to all of you.
With the new year always comes change… and with change comes the hope that things will get better. An English poet coined the phrase, “hope springs eternal”. Most of us harbor the hope that things will get better in our society, our lives, for our families.
Hope may spring eternal but it seems a long time coming where I live. Driving through my south Minneapolis neighborhood these days is a bitter experience… I see the rubble of burned and demolished buildings, all covered in snow. I pass by vacant lots once occupied by stores and businesses I used to frequent. The signs of winter, ice and snow, gives things a peaceful prospect… but they serve to remind me how much time has passed since our neighborhoods were in turmoil, and little restoration has been done. I recall the injustice, and the anger it provoked. I remember the protest, and those who exploited it to foment anarchy and fear. One block away from my house I pass the makeshift memorial one family made to mark the violent passing of their teenage son to a street gun battle, a lasting image before I turn down the alley to pull into my driveway. I hope for things to get better but reminders of the injustices which face the poor surround me.
The physical manifestations are the least of it. 2020 is over but its vestiges linger. Covid 19 vaccines, a change in government leadership, vows of police accountability, the dampening of street activity by the onset of winter (not much!)… so much promise but no real change yet. We still hear gunshots at night here in the dead of winter. White people are allowed to wreak havoc in our nation’s capitol with no fear of punishment or reprisal while young Black men continue to be shot down by police for the slightest provocation. This is America. It doesn’t seem as if things will change at all, but maybe I’m looking in the wrong place.
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains… where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 1.1-2
I’ve just completed a book on the trials facing young Black men growing up in the city (Not Forsaken, available in March). Its premise is that young Black men must look beyond themselves and beyond this world to find vindication and deliverance. And then use that Power to overcome the world and their circumstances. They must look to Christ and be subsumed by His life in order to be who they really are. This is true for each of us, no matter the gender, ethnicity or income level… but especially relevant for those who have nothing in this world. It is a spiritual principle that the less you are invested in this world, the more you are open to Christ.
So we lift up our eyes to the Lord, from whom our deliverance, our Hope, comes. And it may come soon or it may take awhile, but it will come. And while we are waiting, Jesus is right here with us. He empowers us to keep on keepin’ on, to overcome! We hold on to God’s promise in Psalm 30.5, that weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning .