Letter To Ferguson

Dear Ferguson,

I ache for you today. My heart aches to the point that I’m in a strange sort physical pain. The prophet would say I’m travailing, the cynic would say I’m wasting my time. And me? I’m not even sure what to think. But I have to say something today. Let me be corrected tomorrow, but let me not be silent today.

I recognize pain when I see it. Pain on the face of a community that has lost sense of herself, of how normal is supposed to feel. A community that has been thrust before the national eye and raped by every possible opinion, poll and plank of political propaganda possible.

The ache I have prompts me to a form of prayer. Not really with words, because I don’t know exactly what to pray. But with groanings.

I’m groaning today at the talking heads that will forget the taste of your flesh by the time they’re next meal has arrived. For whatever reason, we trust them to regurgitate our nourishment on command. Yours just happened to be the plat du jour. And I’m sorry.

I’m groaning for the beautiful person that’s picking up the litter this morning along your sidewalks. No video cameras catching his or her act of service. No one championing his or her heart to see healing brought to your town; they themselves don’t even know what to do, so they start with the only act they can think off: to make Ferguson beautiful again, one scrap at a time.

I’m groaning for a black family that lost their son. Of all people not to fault for an emotional response, it’s them. And yet their vision has cleared to desire something that smacks of the divine. I’m groaning for a white family that now must always watch over their shoulder, sharing in what so many black families already walk in everyday.

I’m groaning for your leaders, both spiritual and civic. Asking God to grant them immense wisdom for the long road ahead. I’m pleading with the Lord for renewed grace. For favor with one another as the spiritual try to emulate Christ, and the civic try to embody discretion.

I’m groaning, most of all, at the community of faith outside of your town. I’m sorry that in many places she too has lost her sense of identity when it comes to you, Ferguson. Where so many of her leaders seem to be silent, I find overwhelming numbers of her congregants willing to speak out of step with that of her Betrothed. They’ve failed to pray for even ten concerted minutes for you, and yet their proficiency at small-time publishing entitles them to profess their allegiance whatever emotion is on tap.

They’ve shown that their affluent position has clouded their judgement, has created a fog over the Christ that granted paradise to the thief and washed the feet of a murderer. They can’t even spell “indictment,” nor do they recognize the bitter knife they plunge into humanity when they use “white” or “black.” I groan at our collective ignorance, and our failure to live up to one person’s expectations—the one who alone has the right to expect much of us, because we claim to be sanctioned by his blood offering.

I groan for those of us who think racism is dead, failing to realize that it’s very much alive in our Facebook feeds.

Sometimes, Ferguson, I wonder just how far we’ve come. Do our people even hear us on Sundays?

Listening is a reflex, but hearing is an art. Oh, may we learn the language of artful hearing once more.

We’re not “modern man.” Despite our epic leaps—and there are many—it’s days like today where I’m convinced we’re just animals with computer screens for toys. We’re Cain pointing a finger at Able saying, “He deserved it,” while ignoring the blood on our hands from the safety of our couches hundreds of miles from you, Ferguson.

It is the epitome of gossip to think we have any right to an opinion of who you are, Ferguson, unless we live with you. Among you. Bleeding with you. And we’re sorry. For coming to our own conclusions so far from your doorstep. For failing to spend even ten minutes in prayer for your borders, your families, your leaders.

It’s in the cacophony of civil unrest that the will of society is revealed, it’s just that the majority rarely think they’re the ones under examination.

I may not be a pastor of many people, Ferguson, but I’m a pastor of people who matter. My voice may not be as loud as some who need to be saying something as spiritual leaders of our nation. But it has at least a little volume. To call people to remember they’re Christians, not Republicans or Democrats. Christians. That do the things Jesus did.

I’m praying for you, Ferguson. For ten minutes right now. It’s the least I can do as a Christian.

Groaning,

Christopher Hopper

  • Hillary Hopper

    Beautifully written.

  • Love this. I know your heart, man. There is not a single word of this that is disingenuous or patronizing.

    The facts in this incident are finally public, but just because facts are true does not make them easy to digest. Regurgitation is a violent act of the body to dispose of unhealthy, unwanted poison. Unfortunately the degree of poison some people have been force fed is resulting in this violent public regurgitation.

    We are praying for you as well Ferguson; for the healing balm of brotherly love, despite the tint of the brother’s melanin.

    • Thanks, Chris. Means a lot. And your prayers for that city mean even more.

  • Amen. Groaning is a great image for this time. Lord have mercy and bring Your peace.

    • Amen, and amen. Thanks for the comment, Eric, and thanks for praying.

  • David Buckles

    I wish I could say that I’m one of the few who have shed tears or at least prayerful thoughts for this town and whole situation. Unfortunately I am failing. Thankful for the ability to learn and remember how Jesus would act. Thanks bro

    • Thanks for your heart, Dave. Being teachable is an attribute of Christ, and something I admire in you very much.

  • Fawn

    Thank you for reminding us that we have no right to say anything unless we are willing to walk a mile, shed a tear, and most of all love the way Christ did. Earn the right to be heard by caring – preach at all times, and sometimes even use words!

    • You’re welcome, Fawn. And thank you for reading and commenting.

      “Earn the right to be heard by caring.”

      Great addition.

      • Fawn

        I just got a digital copy of your book about publishing- thank you! I am an international evangelical speaker and I use the quilts I have made to expound upon biblical truths. The audiences love it, and it is a great way to help them remember, but I would love to publish my testimony. I am a commissioner lay minister in the Catholic Church, and have gotten some flack from the evangelical community for becoming Catholic- very eye-opening! God has sent me to be a witness to them, and it has been my mission to help all Christians unite. I belong to an ecumenical ministry group affiliated with Stonecroft Ministries that shares the gospel, prays for our community, and organizes bible studies. God has done it all, and I am so very thankful!

        • Fawn,

          So glad you’re finding the ebook helpful. That was my heart in creating it.

          Sorry about the flack you’ve received. It’s tragic, actually. The fact that we humans are so sectarian is frustrating, and something I think Jesus frowns upon (to say the least). We are all called into places that need light, life and hope, and as Christians, we should be the very last people to throws stones of suspicion. I’m proud of you for your efforts, and I think it’s to be commended. Long before we are Baptist or Catholic or Protestant or Lutheran, if we believe Jesus is truly God the Son and adhere to his lifestyle and testimony, then we are first and foremost Christians.

          Blessings!

  • So well said. While situations like these are never favorable to have happen, they at least jolt us out of our stupor and slumber. There are real problems in the world, real answers, but also real work to have those answers and problems come together. Great thoughts, friend.