Baltimore and Freddie Gray – What I’m Praying For & What I’m Reading

Just as I was finishing up an earlier post on what’s been going on in Baltimore, news broke out that six officers are being charged in the homicidal death of Freddie Gray. As you know, the speed of the investigation caught everyone off-guard and I felt the need to take a step back and pause. 

While I grieve so many things about all of this, the thought of a self-inflicted spinal severing is something I am having trouble imagining and I’m grateful there will be a trial by jury as further investigation is needed. There’s a lot more to happen on a number of levels concerning due process, community-healing, and we know the road to reconciliation is a long and windy one, so let us keep walking together and seeking justice for all. 

That said, the predominant thought rattling in my head is something like, “We are still here as a society and it feels like we’re going to be here for a longer time than expected.” Despite all our progress, despite the many wonderful stories (and we have been amazing ones), there is an enormous amount of bitterness, anger, and hopelessness felt by so many regardless of skin color and these moments continue to bring out so much of our ugliness as a society. Thus, the question of, “Can we be a better society to more people and if so, how?” feels like the question worth asking.

Such a question assumes that being a better society would be easy, that it would just take a few tweaks here and there, a fix up ahead and of course, a piece of legislation to be passed and all would be well. Many such measures will be needed but what is even greater above all will be a change of heart throughout our country. This was my problem with Franklin Graham’s comments of merely listening to the officers and I have a similar issue with the rhetoric of fixing “the white man.” We all need fixing, from Freddie Gray, to the officers being charged, to me and you. 

Every family, every people group, every institution, every organization needs to have a series of sit-downs and host conversations about what is wrong, what could be better and what can we do to make it better. Each individual needs self-reflection to uncover any hidden prejudice and to confront the question, “Do I really love my neighbor and if so, how am I living this?” And as cliché as it may sound, I too wonder how would Jesus be responding to all of this?

In our readings of the Gospels, Jesus takes exception to the systemic injustices of the powerful against the poor. In one scene, Jesus points at the “experts of the law” (The Sadducees and Pharisees) who insist on receiving the best treatment, sitting in the best seats of the synagogue, and evicting widows from their homes and then returning back to their worship. Jesus promises that they will be the ones punished most severely (Luke 20:45-47).

Very few of us are that powerful but between that scene and and the oft-quoted “To whom much has been given, much will be required…” I find my soul stirred and I’m asking God to bring clarity in responding in a redemptive, peace-making way. And so, here’s what I’ve been reading and here’s what I am praying for:

I am praying for a fair trial for the officers being charged with Freddie Gray’s death as I continue to pray Freddie’s family/community.

I am also praying for the countless valiant and courageous officers (and their families) who serve their communities across our nation faithfully. May they continue to be respected and appreciated and may we as a society avoid the temptation of over-generalizing anyone. 

Thus, I am praying that we outsiders will not over-generalize the people of Baltimore (and again,anyone else for that matter). Majority of the protesters were peaceful. Not all were mind you, and may the violent and the guilty (particularly those who acted criminally in burning down a church, a senior center, etc. and attacked innocent people) be brought to justice. 

I am praying that my conservative friends (and I use “friends” sincerely) will be able to see the call for justice as a Christian endeavor and not a political one. In my opinion, that is a needed shift in our understanding. I am also praying that my progressive friends will not be or act self-righteously. I mean that sincerely as well. May the moderates avoid both these pits while avoiding to create new ones and may we all ask God for wisdom and discernment here. 

I am praying for more peace-making in a violent, angry world.

I’ve been reading a fair amount this week. Here are some of the pieces that I have gripped me. Please remember that sharing links are not whole endorsements, but I have found resonance in these pieces:

Baltimore is Not Ferguson – Here’s What Really Is – Steve Inskeep (NPR)

How the Police Are Screwing Up The Story They Are Telling – by Don Miller

Dear white Facebook friends: I need you to respect what Black America is feeling right now – Julia Blount ( – The second half of this post is particularly sobering. 

It’s Time for Christians to Acknowledge Privilege – Jayson Bradley (Relevant)

Please remember that we don’t have to agree with all that is written but we cannot converse unless we are in the act of listening first. As with many other issues, it’s tempting to just lay low until the smoke clears but it should be clear to all of us that our societal, or our personal, problems will not disappear. Decades since the Civil Rights era, we have had some progress and we have also had more problems, more systemic inequities  and more injustices in general.  Again, may God give us wisdom, strength and to trust in His message that love conquers all.

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