Each Monday in Lent we are providing a Lenten Reading from the Lamoni Heartland Mission Center Diversity Team. This week’s reflection comes from Evangelist Kris Judd of Northwest Congregation, Community of Christ.
Psalm 107:1-3 (The Voice)
Erupt with thanks to the Eternal, for He is good
and His loyal love lasts forever.
Let all those redeemed by the Eternal—
those rescued from times of deep trouble—join in giving thanks.
He has gathered them across the earth,
from east and west,
from [north and south].
Late in the summer of 2014 the nation watched the city of Ferguson, Missouri with anxiety, anger and fear. Michael Brown, a young Black man had been killed by police and those living in the racially segregated area where he lived took to the streets to express their own anxiety, anger and fear. The riots lasted weeks, and erupted several times in St Louis and surrounding area over the next year. The nation was being awakened to issues regarding policing practices that members of Black communities knew all too well.
A year later, in August 2015, driving in a predominantly white area of town, I passed by a two car accident that had just recently occurred. Two police cars were on the scene, along with a white woman, and a 20 something young black man whose car had caused the accident. He was standing alone, while others who had witnessed the accident stood alongside the woman. I was headed home but because of the events of the past year decided to turn around and return to the accident scene. As the psalmist wrote, this young man was alone, in a time of “deep trouble”.
I parked my car and walked up to the scene. The police asked if I had witnessed the accident, to which I said ‘no’. They took no more notice of me as I stood by the young man, introduced myself and said I was just there as a witness to what was happening. We talked about what happened, how he was in a hurry to get home from his job and came upon this woman at the crest of a hill. He was a college student, working for the summer before going back to school. I think he was puzzled that I stood there with him, trying to make an awkward and anxiety provoking situation more comfortable. I received some quizzical looks from the woman and the other witnesses. I was not judging innocence or guilt. I was merely standing as a witness to how he was treated, and how he treated others. I left once it felt safe to do so, shaking his hand, and wishing him luck in school and wherever that took him. He thanked me for waiting with him. It was the least I could do.
I was late to wherever I was headed. So was he, and the woman whose car he hit. But in that moment nothing mattered more to me than standing with someone in deep trouble with hopes that even deeper trouble would not cost a life.
May our ongoing Lenten journey invite us to notice, stop, bear witness, and stand with and for those whose lives are in deep trouble, and we have the power to be present.
March 15, 2021