I’m spending the week in the beloved community we know as church camp and we try to stay away from the news as much as possible while here, however several of us caught the video of a pool party in McKinney, Texas. The images of a police officer pointing a gun at a group of teenagers and then using excessive force on a 14-year-old female. By most accounts, there was ongoing tension between white adults and black teenagers and the situation came to a head.

McKinney is a suburban community with economic and racial division, which is not all that unique these days. I wonder if incidents between police and citizens are more frequent today or if social media helps us to capture and report these moments in ways we could not a decade ago.

Regardless, we have a problem. There is a deep mistrust between citizens, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized, and authorities. Authentic community never blossoms in the soil of mistrust and fear.

A large portion of Jesus’ life and ministry was dedicated to those who lived on the margins, while calling for repentance of our systemic sin that prevented all of God’s children from flourishing in this life. Jesus makes the statement in the Gospel of John, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

This is our litmus test as people of faith. Jesus lived in a time of terrible violence, a time of terrible abuse of those without power by those who held power. In the midst of this, Jesus was so confident in the love of God for all people that he felt confident in proclaiming that if we would just be faithful to God’s ways that all people could have more life than they ever dreamed of having. Do we create and advocate for systems and institutions that strive for life and call us away from systemic sin?

This week at church camp, we are working on that, not because we are at church camp, but because this is what God would have us to do. May the Holy Spirit sweep through our land with the flame of life for all.

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