Bill shares a lament on the twin viruses plaguing our nation: COVID-19, and racism; but through everything, there is faith, hope, and love.
The Reverend Dr. William A. Evertsberg
Hi, friends. My name is Bill Evertsberg. I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church and this is Doogie, my assistant minister.
So this is not a fireside chat, not just because I’m not fireside. This is not a chat at all, but rather a lament, and so if you are particularly vulnerable right now, this might not be helpful to you so you have my permission to tune me out right now. I really mean it. Stop listening if you are vulnerable because this might not be helpful.
On the other hand, if you’d like to think with me for five minutes about the kinds of changes we need to make in America, please bear with me.
So many Americans can’t breathe right now. Some Americans can’t breathe because they have COVID-19 and are hooked up to ventilators.
One American, at least, couldn’t breathe because a police officer was kneeling on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, 2 minutes and 53 seconds while he was unconscious, maybe already dead.
Some Americans can’t breathe because of smoke from tear gas canisters or from burning police cruisers or burning police precincts.
It seems as if all of the air has been sucked out of our entire country, and that’s because America is being afflicted right now with twin viruses: the virus that causes COVID-19, and the virus of racism. And racism is a virus, right? It’s mostly invisible. It’s inside us. You can’t see it. It breeds in blood. It’s contagious. It’s virulent. Racism kills.
I will never forget the implacable malice on the face of Derek Chauvin while he was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.
In Minnesota, they charge you with third degree murder if you “evince a depraved mind,” unthinking of human life. “Depraved” is the right word, right? It was very clear that it never crossed Derek Chauvin’s depraved mind that George Floyd was a fellow human being. To him, George Floyd was “less than,” or “other than,” or “inferior to,” and all of that has got to stop.
Three: the number of times Amy Cooper told the 911 operator that an African-American man was threatening her in Central Park.
Three: the number of white men who hunted down and killed Ahmaud Arbery because he was trespassing at a construction site in Georgia.
Three: the number of police officers who helped Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd’s neck.
Third-degree: depraved mind. All of that has got to stop. Better screening, training, and disciplining of our police force.
I also will never forget the sight of that scandalous looting in the Loop at Macy’s, which I will always think of as Marshall Field’s from my childhood. So many wonderful memories. Those thugs who are looting in stores in 75 cities across America are dishonoring George Floyd’s memory with either unchecked rage or selfish greed, so that’s got to stop, too.
Two thousand years ago, Saint Paul showed us the way through. “Three things abide,” he wrote. “Three things remain: faith, and hope, and love.”
Martin Luther King called faith, hope, and love a “magnificent trilogy of durability” because they last. Don’t you miss Dr. King’s unflagging nonviolence just now?
I saw a wonderful thing on Facebook this morning. A picture of Dr. King, the caption reads: “Never burned a building. Never robbed a store. Never destroyed a town. Changed the world.”
Faith, hope, and love, a magnificent trilogy of durability.
“Faith” because we believe this is still God’s world and God will eventually lead us through the valley of the shadow to the other side. God is working God’s purpose out as year succeeds to year.
So faith, and hope: hope that sends a shining ray far down the future’s broadening way. Hope that remembers we’ve survived things like this before. In 1968, 100,000 Americans died of influenza, almost exactly the same number that have died so far of COVID-19. America was riven in 1968 by racial violence, racial tension. Remember the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 1968? American soldiers were returning from Vietnam and being spat upon. We survived. We got better. We learned, we failed, and then we failed better. Think of all the wonderful prosperity we’ve enjoyed and the great wisdoms we’ve learned over the last 50 years.
So faith, and hope, and love, because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love does not exhibit a trace of partiality. Love is indiscriminate. White. Brown. Black. It doesn’t matter. Spanish or English. It doesn’t matter. Gay or straight. It doesn’t matter. Rich or poor. Doesn’t matter. Love the least, the last, the lost, the lame, and the loser. Love is indiscriminate.
And so this magnificent trilogy of durability. “Three things abide,” says Saint Paul: “Three things remain. Faith and hope and love, and the greatest of these…
God bless you.