From Ferguson: The Sting of Sin, The Sting of Death

imageMercy Junction founder/evangelist, the Rev. Brian Merritt, arrived in Ferguson, Mo., last night. This is Brian’s second update since arriving. To read about why he went to Ferguson, go to this post.

In Paul’s famous words, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” he follows with a startling statement. That statement is the acknowledgement that the “sting of death” is sin! Earlier in this Corinthian text Paul makes the radical promise that in a right kingdom to come, all dominion, authority and power must be destroyed. The last, most pernicious enemy to be destroyed, must be death.

Today was one where I inwardly ached to see all dominion, authority and power destroyed. I want the power in a sin sting of death to be obliterated by a super Jesus created by Marvel comics. As I walked the fateful streets of Ferguson I prayed and meditated on things I saw and heard, I saw and heard the sting of sin, the sting of death.

Walking down Cranfield Drive, I came upon the hospitality tent that has allowed these projects to become a pilgrimage of sorts. People stood on their ledges as cars slowed down to pay respect to the growing monument in the center of the road. Two other memorials on the side have been erected with jerseys, candles and stuffed animals. One has a cross with the words, “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself” on its beams. Underneath it had a newer proverb for that community: “Beware Killer cop on the loose. Watch out children.” The sting of sin, the sting of death.

A group of us clergy laid hands on the building closest to the where Michael Brown had been shot. The pastor from California led us in prayers of uplift for the family and the neighborhood. Yet, leaving the neighborhood, I felt empty and ashamed that we are still denying people basic human dignity and rights. The sting of sin, the sting of death.

As I left the neighborhood, I noticed surgical masks scattered on the ground that could not have done much to help the sting of tear gas. I also heard the constant buzz of the police helicopter that was obviously equipped with 360 degree cameras to spy on the peaceful people coming and going on this pilgrimage. Security and money spent to militarize the police while 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry. The sting of sin, the sting of death!!!!

Clearing that final block to my car I noticed a boarded-up business with chalkboard paper on two of its sides. Each had blank lines with the incomplete thought: “Before I die … I want to:”

I went from board to board reading and began to regain my hope for salvation. “I want to get in the game…and change the world.” “All people in peace.” “Watch my kids graduate.” “I want to see the world a better place.” “Want to have grandchildren and see my children get married.” “See the world heal.” “Equal justice for all!” “Let our people go home.” “I want to change someone’s life!” “See the demilitarization of the police forces.” “Make a difference.” “Bring peace to the world.” “Housing, food and health for all.” “Go on an adventure with my dad.” “Unlearn” “See justice for your youth.” “See Peace!” “Have difficult conversations.” “See the young get old before they die..” “Beautify the world with more art.” “Be equal/free.” “See systemic reform.” “Stop violence.” “Graduate High School.” “See the world.” “Finish college.” and “Become somebody.”

So…   “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Injustice, violence, inequality and death you are not welcome here anymore.

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