Why Ron Johnson Reminds Me of Jesus (#Ferguson)

Here's the Call to Worship I shared this morning to open our services at Imago Dei Community.
 

Hearing the news from Ferguson this week was depressing. For any who harbored the illusion that racial tensions are merely a thing of the past, Ferguson ripped the national bandage off to show the wounds are still alive and well.

Before

Before

There was the killing of Michael Brown (an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer), the ensuing community protests and dramatic police response. All of which spoke to broader underlying issues like racial profiling, militarization of the police, and racial division in our country.

In the midst of this, one story I loved was that of Captain Ron Johnson. When he was put in charge of the police force, something significantly changed. Prior to that, the police were decked out in riot gear, showing force with armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets. Reporters were intimidated, arrested and removed. Tensions and hostility quickly escalated between police and community protestors.

ron johnson 5

After

But when the governor put Captain Johnson in charge, something changed. He came not with riot gear, but in his simple uniform. He walked with the people: met with them, listened to them, identified with them. He was from their town. They looked to him and saw him as one of their own. And things de-escalated quickly. He bore his authority in a different way.

Ron Johnson reminds me of Jesus.

As we come to worship this morning, there are three ways I believe Ron Johnson’s leadership can draw our attention to Christ:

  1. IDENTIFICATION: Jesus steps into our world and identifies with us. Like Captain Johnson crossing the picket line, Jesus is the Son of God who crosses the chasm from divinity into humanity, from power into weakness, steps across the divide of hostility and enters our world in a way where he feels our pain, walks our dust, and we recognize him as one of our own.
  2. VULNERABILITY: Jesus steps into our world vulnerably. Though the King of all the earth, he comes not with riot gear, tear gas and bullets but defenses down, unprotected, able to be wounded. Though he bears authority, Jesus comes not in armor but in plain-clothes, vulnerable, not only as a baby but ultimately on the cross. Jesus is willing to be wounded for the sake of reconciliation.
  3. DEATH: Jesus identifies not only with our humanity, but with our death. Though himself the Life through whom all life was made, he takes into himself the suffering, death and destruction that we have unleashed into our world. He enters the tomb to join Michael Brown killed this week, Abel slain by Cain, and all of us under sin’s death-dealing power. Jesus joins us in the grave.

Jesus walks with us.

And Jesus joins us in the grave not only to stay there, but to conquer it. Through the power of his resurrection, to make a new, reconciled humanity, united in his restoring Spirit to the glory of the Father of all nations.

This morning, let’s pray and work for reconciliation, let’s seek to be a reconciled people ourselves in the midst of our city, and let’s worship Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith and Great Reconciler of our world.

We’re going to take a 10-second moment of silence to reflect on Jesus, the Great Reconciler, and I want to invite you to intercede for our church and our country to experience the reconciliation Christ longs to bring.

——–

Note: if interested, here’s the lyrics to the song we led into from this Call to Worship, “Victorious” (free download available here; lyrics by friends Paul Ramey and Alex Davis, download performed by the amazing Hannah Glavor–though we rocked our version out a bit more Neil Young-style this morning 🙂 ) 

 

VICTORIOUS

From tree we robbed and thorns we sowed,

We carved your cross, your crown we wove

Our highest courts, our truest priests,

Beat you for sport, hanged you with thieves

 

But You rose victorious, pierced and whole and glorious,

To lead Love’s joyful riots, hear the whole earth crying out:

 

O Bread of Heaven, in You we’re made one

Blessed, broken, given, O hallelujah

O Crucified King, Your might works all things

To gift Communion, O hallelujah

 

While ‘lone You prayed and Your friends hid,

When sunlight strayed and Your pores bled

When You were gouged, and mocked, denied,

The Faithful Judge watched when You died

 

So You rose victorious, pierced and whole and glorious,

To lead Love’s joyful riots, hear the whole earth crying out:

 

O Bread of Heaven, in You we’re made one

Blessed, broken, given, O hallelujah

O Crucified King, Your might works all things

To gift Communion, O hallelujah

 

Author: "The Skeletons in God's Closet." Pastor: Imago Dei Community. Husband, Father, Foster Parent.

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