But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:13-14)
I have had the great privilege of doing many funerals. Although I always tailored my remarks to the deceased, I often used the same outline. First, I would speak about the grief of losing someone we knew and loved. Second, I would talk about the person’s life and what made them unique. Third, I would proclaim the hope of their resurrection into eternal life.
Today is George Floyd’s funeral. Although most of us will not physically be attending his service, I know that millions of people from around the world are attending with their thoughts, hearts, and prayers.
I saw an interview last night with one of George’s grade school teachers. She brought a short essay that young George had written about how he someday wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice like Thurgood Marshall. Although George didn’t get to the Bench, the way he died has made this country face into justice issues like few people in our history.
I have had a terrible sense of grief in the last 10 days. First, I grieve that this man’s life was taken away so cruelly, unjustly, and violently. Second, I grieve that such senseless killings are still happening in our country in 2020 by those who are meant to protect and not take life. Third, I grieve that so many peaceful protesters have been treated so brutally. Fourth, I grieve that so much property has been destroyed. Fifth, I grieve for the ongoing injustice, prejudice, bigotry, and racism that infects our land.
Just as it was my faith in the resurrection that carried me through my own grief when I buried someone, so my faith in the resurrection of a better, brighter, fairer, and more just society will carry me through these dark days. Racism needs to die, and equality between all of God’s children needs to be raised up. Injustice needs to die, and fairness for all needs to be raised up. Bigotry needs to die, and mutual respect needs to be raised up.
Today as we acknowledge George Floyd’s funeral, there are many things we need to do. We need to honor and give thanksgiving for his life. We need to grieve not only his death, but the way he died. We need to cry out, “No more, no more, no more,” and while also pledging ourselves to—borrowing from today’s scripture—breaking down all the dividing walls of hostility that separate us. And we must give great thanksgiving for George’s new life, his eternal life, in God’s nearer presence.
During these troubling days, we must not lose hope. Our Great God is with us and we must pray for God’s strength to help us to finally trample down all racism, finally renounce all injustice, finally eradicate all prejudice which destroys lives, and finally dismantle all unfair systems.
May George Floyd’s death mark the death knell of all the forces that conspired to take his life. May the hope of his resurrection mark the resurrection of hope in this land to provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of God’s children.