June 17, 2020
Our Coronavirus-Protest Movement Devo this morning is from a dear pastor friend from Lancaster County PA – Pastor Mark Ammerman. As a white brother and friend, he asked me what he and his church could do to pray for and encourage me and black folks everywhere. I gave him five petitions regarding all of it. He turned those petitions into a series of daily devotionals for his church called “Morning Manna.” In a real sense this was a joint project. This particular devo captures in bold relief the other side of the riots – the people who suffered the loss of their livelihood. It begins with my petition and then what follows is his exposition, complete with the photo. I share this with you that our church may be edified and may lift up the people here in Richmond who feel what is expressed here. Thank you Mark!!
MORNING MANNA: HEAR MY CRY, O GOD!
June 10, 2020
Today’s scripture reading: Psalm 64:1-4
Last week in Morning Manna, in the spirit of James 1:19, we listened to the voices of our black brothers and sisters in this troubled time, including some wise words from a friend and pastor, Stan Morton. This week, we are revisiting Stan’s most recent words to us—a five point encouragement that we’ll expand on, one point (and one day) at a time.
“Let us pray for those who have suffered damage, destruction, or hurt due to the rioting.”—Stan Morton
“Hear my cry, O God! Listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I will cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed I will climb to the Rock that is higher than I am.You have been my shelter, my strong tower from the enemy.I will live in your tent forever. I will trust your wings to cover me (Psalm 64:1-4).”
He stood in the doorway, pleading, “Please don’t do this! This store is my life, my livelihood. All that I have… for my wife, for my kids… for my neighbors, my neighborhood.” But they shattered his windows, stole his goods, burned his business, destroyed his home–it was on the second floor–and the flames left him nothing. Father, take him into your tent, set a table for him in the presence of his enemies. Fill his cup to overflowing. I’ll help pour.
She had come down the street and seen them looting, taking all that her son had worked for. She begged them as they went in and out, carrying off everything that wasn’t nailed down. “Why?” she cried. “My son is in the crowd at the station! Protesting for justice! This isn’t justice! You should be ashamed of yourselves! This is wrong, wrong, wrong!” They grabbed her, hit her, knocked her down and kicked her. Left her lying, crying, bleeding in the street. Father, wrap your wings around her—shelter, comfort, cover, heal her broken body and her aching heart. I will wrap her wounds, I will weep with her.
Gregg stepped up to the man who was smashing the plate-glass window at Jacqui’s Jewelry. He took the man’s arm in his own strong grip, and bent it backwards. It was habit, old habit, though he’d laid down the badge ten years ago. Jacqui was his neighbor. His granddaughter worked for her. These streets had been his beat once, now they were his home. A retired black cop with a ready smile and a hand to help—everybody knew him. Didn’t matter today. Others pulled him off the vandal, and the vandal pulled a gun. One shot, two shots. Everyone scattered, everyone but Gregg. Flowers and pictures and an old police cap mark the spot today. Father, hear our cry, hear our prayer. From the blood on the sidewalk we cry to you. Our hearts are overwhelmed. Lift us to the Rock that is higher than we are!
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12).” That’s Jesus’ commandment: the “Golden Rule.” A “rule” because it’s a principle for living. “Golden” because it’s precious, so very precious—the highest and most valued of all rules. We used to know its words by heart. But now our hearts are hard, and all rules are trampled underfoot. Maybe we need to put it this way: “You want justice, be just! You want to be heard, listen to others. You want freedom, let men live free. You want respect, give respect. You want love, then give love! You want what others have worked for, work for it yourself. Whatever you want from life, give back to life. The way you want to be treated is the way you must treat others.”
“Don’t fool yourself! God can’t be mocked. What you sow, you’re going to reap. If you sow the seeds of sin, then sin will grow up and choke the life out of you. But if you sow seeds that come from the Spirit of God, then the harvest of the Spirit will be everlasting life. Let’s not get tired of doing good, because when harvest season comes around, we’ll reap goodness!—so don’t give up (Galatians 6:7-9).”
Father, help us not give up! Help us to pray! Help us cast our burdens on you so that we are free to carry the burdens of others. In the name of Jesus, Amen!