“So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” John 18:3 (NIV)
I don’t know about you but “torches, lanterns and weapons” seem a bit excessive considering the perpetrator (Jesus of Nazareth) that the soldiers, officials representing the chief priests and Pharisees were out to apprehend. Some may say that the officials were just doing their job and the excessive show of force was justified. Others felt that their rights were being trampled on and that this was just another case of abuse of power. Regardless, on a political, legal and moral scale the system failed greatly.
On Saturday August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was shot to death by police while walking down a street with a friend.
In the midst of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Iraqi’s fight against the terror group ISIS and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the tragic death of Michael Brown, yet another African-American male killed at the hands of police, has polarized this nation.
Several months ago at a classis meeting there was discussion regarding gun control in our country. Both sides presented passionate dialogue about their stance and a small portion suggested that urban areas with it’s minority population, crime and failing schools would benefit greatly from better gun control laws. My response to that notion is that everyone would benefit from better gun control laws, from Columbine to Newark and from Paterson to Newtown. But what I shared with my sisters and brothers that night is that the first time I ever had a gun pointed at me did not occur in Paterson but in a predominantly white suburb of Bergen County.
Imagine the psychological effects of knowing that your only crime was driving home from work after dark. No speeding, no broken taillight and your license, registration and insurance not asked for. You think to yourself, “This is it. I might not see my family and friends again.” The officers question you, “Where are you going?” “Where are you coming from?” “Do you know anyone who lives in this town?”
Never mind the fact that I worked at Ramapo College for 14 years, my wife who was my fiancée at that time, lived in that town and, oh yes, by the way, I am a US Citizen since birth. With your dignity now stripped away, anger and frustration come to the forefront.
I know how Peter felt when they came to arrest Jesus. He had enough of being pushed around but Jesus knew full well that peace would prevail and His tragedy would become our eternal triumph. Peace will prevail in Ferguson, Missouri, as it will in every urban city, suburb and trailer park when the people of God pray for one another and love one another.
Let us pray that the tragic death of Michael Brown will be the beginning of triumph over the sinful practices of injustice all over this world. God has placed many voices throughout the Earth and no greater voice does He have at His disposal than the Reformed Church in America. Let us continue to sharpen each other with every opportunity that the master gives us daily
Blessings, Rev. Darryl Redmond
Pastor, Faith Chapel Reformed Church
President, Synod of the Mid-Atlantics