I have fought in a war, spent four years in the Marine Corps, forty years in the ministry in the United Methodist Church, dealt with all sorts of people in all sorts of dire circumstances and situations. I was raised in the church by parents who were called by God to be in ministry and who believed I was called to ministry, as well. I have watched my parents and Shirley’s parents both die and took part in their memorial celebrations. I had two nephews drown in a farm pond when they were seven and nine.
My parents being in ministry we moved many times to all sorts of places. My dad had to leave the ministry because my mother was sick and he could not pay the bills. It even got so bad at one time the Salvation Army brought my brother and me Christmas presents (one each). In moving so much we had many friends but very few close friends. I spent twelve years in college, seminary and graduate school.
I am married with one son, a daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. I love my wife and am faithful to her. We keep our grandkids almost every weekday.
I am a recently retired United Methodist Minister. I love the Lord and believe we all should grow in the likeness of Christ, love everyone as we would a brother or sister, and treat each other as we would want to be treated.
I have mentioned this long litany of my life’s circumstances and relationships because all of this has gone into making me the person I am today. If one or more of these had been different I could be speaking from a different perspective.
With all my life’s experiences I still cannot truly walk in someone else’s shoes… I cannot experience their life. I can read about them, talk with them, see documentaries about their life and cultural situations, but I cannot really understand them fully until I live their life.
Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, explained this in his recent speech to the NAACP, when he said that as a young black college student in Georgetown he was running because he was late for the start of a movie when he was stopped by a young police officer. I probably would not have been stopped… none of us white persons would have been stopped. All black people, however, understand why Eric was stopped, they might have been stopped, and they know why.
Tonight, please take the time to consider what made you who you are today. But more than that, let us get ready for a little more discussion tomorrow night about how some/many black people experience life in the U.S.
Grace and Peace