Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Growing up I went to Silver Lake School. A red brick building with white trim with large grassy areas and a big playground. Our school was in a suburban middle-class neighborhood where 95% of the students were white. I distinctly remember the police officer who was assigned to our school.  His name was Officer Klink. He had a big smile and quick laugh and loved kids. He came to school assemblies and to talk to our class. I especially liked him because he even had red hair!

I realize now that this introduction to the police is not the experience of everyone in our community. Depending on the color of your skin and the neighborhood where you live, the police can be seen as helpful and protective or a potential danger. As the world focused on Minneapolis and watched the Derek Chauvin trial we were all aware of these distinctions. The past year has taught us so much about how we label people, how we put up barriers, and how we define people as “the other.” Hopefully, the verdicts in the case bring us one step closer to bridging these gaps and healing.

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts chapter 8 serves as a model for how to do this. The Holy Spirit directs Philip to go to a certain place – a road into the unknown. There he meets a man who seems so different from himself. The two engage in meaningful conversation as Philip asks what he is reading and the man shows him the scroll of Isaiah. They talk about what it means and Philip shares the story of Jesus with him. Philip does not see the man as scary or a threat or someone to avoid. He embraces him for who he is. When the man asks to be baptized, it is a symbol of how the circle of God’s grace has no boundaries. We are invited by the Holy Spirit to reach out to those we label “other,” to get to know them and to treat all people with God’s grace.  

Let us pray:
Good and Gracious God, you are the author of life, and you adopt us to be your children. Fill us with your words of life, that we may live as your witnesses to the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.