There are so many thoughts swirling in my head the day after a powerful experience I was a part of in Baltimore city.
I came home after the event to the reminder that yesterday was the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death. And with that came a range of reactions: peaceful marches, shots fired and the mocking of a dead teenager.
I woke up this morning to a news alert which told me that someone was injured when shots were fired in Ferguson yesterday. And the news reel listed off many dead around the country and world because of guns and bombs.
More often than not, the news is hard to swallow.
So today, I am going to focus on remembering how a group of people came together in a Baltimore neighborhood and became the hands and feet of Jesus.
I stood there from behind the food table, watching black and white, young and old, those with plenty and those in need, praise the Lord with a joyful noise. I listened to a man talk with passion about his life experiences and share his elation in being able to spread the Gospel. I saw many listening intently with open hearts.
I imagine heaven to be a place where we are all singing of the joy of the Lord and eating good food. For a few hours, we had a piece of heaven in Sandtown.
The neighborhood was one I had never been to, only heard of. It was the neighborhood of Freddie Gray: whose death ignited a continued conversation about race relations and what it truly means to be a neighbor. Many had told me that is where the gangs live, and where much violence happens.
But what I saw were neighbors, fellow human beings, welcoming us with open arms and so thankful to receive food, conversation and music and to give of themselves. They talked about life and loss and joys and challenges. They are people just like me.
Is this neighborhood really different from my own? Why does there have to be so much separation? Why can’t we walk into one another’s homes and just sit and listen?
I understand that the problems lie much deeper and can’t just be swept under the rug. But I think Jesus wants us to have those hard conversations. He desires for us to serve along side our fellow neighbor in meeting the needs of others. For when we serve others, we are serving and glorifying our Father in heaven.
As I was driving out of the city, I saw this:
Peace is what I pray for in my neighborhood, in my city and in my world. Thankfully, Jesus gives us the peace we need. Although I don’t always understand the timing, or the sinfulness of the world, His peace is still the only thing that will satisfy me.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27