When It Comes to Ferguson, Does the Church Have Good News or Just More of the Same?


Media of all types, it seems, add to the confusion and struggle of what has happened in Ferguson, MO. I, like most of us, have friends with differing opinions who often discuss, listen and disagree. I've tried to do more listening (but I've also been 'told' being silent isn't an option either). But divorced from our friendship, from covenant, our words can and do cut and hurt and become easily misinterpreted.

My son tried to do this very thing. The court of public opinion and open discourse seems to have no place for our young people though, not really. Instead of being welcomed as a young voice seeking his way, he was subsequently condemned and shouted down.  His words were misconstrued and no attempts to clarify were acceptable. As one with many clergy friends, I can find numerous posts where we are failing to consider the younger voices (and eyes/ears) entering into our conversation (not saying it was a clergy who wrote to my son either but it could have been).

As the United Methodist Church, we have said the voices of youth and young adults should have a place.  We all must remember that young minds and hearts are part of this too and as such, we need to be attentive to how their opinions are being formed. It is to this that I write because we need to be aware of how we are informing them.

So I would like to enter an additional opinion to what we (the Church) face in addressing what our society faces (not just in Ferguson, but also the world community as they watch and comment). That this past week was the Thanksgiving holiday but also the beginning of the Church year, should not be missed on us. In examining the role of thanksgiving on the life of the Church, Simon Tugwell notes that in times of suffering, it is here that it is the Church offers a true word of thanksgiving. The Eucharist contains both of these realities (suffering and thanksgiving) and “This is the hour of glory, this is the nub of St. Paul’s doctrine that we must rejoice always in the Lord.” He goes on to point out the reality of evil, the reality of the demonic (often present in suffering),

  "The devil is not interested in possessing our bodies, except perhaps as an incidental amusement, and he detests the carnal sins he incites us to commit - he is, after all, a fastidious spirit. What he wants is to make us despair and conclude that all is darkness, everywhere, for all time. It is against this creeping insinuation that we sing and shout “Alleluia!” (from “Prayer in Practice,” 96-97)"

The Church has a better word to speak and we ought to consider speaking rightly before we speak rashly. We are informing young hearts and minds, often younger than we realize. Do we have Good News or just more of the same news?


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