“He died for our sins.” In spite of being raised as a minister’s daughter, I could not fathom what that statement really meant. It never felt relevant to my life. Until now.
George Floyd died for our sins. He died for our sins of racism, bigotry, and ignorance. He died because we did not speak up in time to save him. He died because collectively as a society and as a nation we were deaf to what we should have seen or understood for decades. The shame is on us.
Before you turn away out of anger or disgust that I would dare to compare Jesus’s death to that of George Floyd’s, think about what George’s murder has illuminated for all of us: the immediate need for equality and love and understanding. What was Jesus’s message after all?
In spite of over two thousand years of history, Jesus’s message of love has endured. Somewhere along the way, though, it seems to have lost its meaning. Life in America became a never-ending lip syncing performance where our mouths were moving but we were not really singing. We talked about love and equality for all but kept a dirty, shameful secret: we were a nation divided by race.
In Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit, One of Us, she sang,
“What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?”
Until two weeks ago, George Floyd was a stranger to most of us. Trying to make his way. To survive. He wasn’t turning water into wine or dividing the loaves and the fishes but he was trying to take care of his wife and daughter. And life was a struggle. He died a horrendous death and instantly became an example. He woke us up. He caused a long overdue revolution of consciousness. As his six year old daughter, Gianna said, “Daddy changed the world!”
“If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to His face?
If you were faced with Him in all His glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?” (Joan Osborne)
Right now, I believe God’s name is George.
And the question is, “What can I do, what can we all do, to make sure we stay awake to this injustice, so that George’s death is never forgotten?”
For the next 2000 years.