Today, a grand jury in New York City declined to press charges against a white police officer who applied a choke hold on a black man named Eric Garner, killing him in the process. Garner had suffered from asthma and this move may have put him over the edge to the point of death. In the wake of the Michael Brown situation, this only adds another level of frustration for those feeling like they cannot get justice or representation, that the justice system is skewed to protect police departments.
Garner died at the hands of a police officer. Michael Brown, according to a witness, had his hands raised before he was shot. These two ideas catalyzed my thinking tonight behind this post and the importance of what we do with our hands.
The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus. We read of his life, death, and resurrection. He appears to the disciples and tells Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands so he may believe. In his life, and his new life, his hands represented the embrace of the divine and the electric moment when Heaven and Earth collide.
Hands can help or hurt, embrace or strike. Babies rely on the touch of their parents. Reach out to a child who has suffered abuse and you will get a much different response. A touch can soothe a broken heart and mend a bad day, it can heal a wound and provide strength to fight.
It is time to get hands-on.
We spend way too much time on the sidelines. I’m guilty of this. It is so much easier to watch and let it pass, to go back to our everyday lives and figure someone else will deal with it. We are content with passivity. We are relaxed in routine. We are settled in our suburban groove of SUVs, PTAs, and trips to the grocery store.
We drift while this world explodes around us.
It is time to have the hard talk, to tell our kids about reality. It is time to be active and serve to build bridges in the community. It is time to have a front-line faith. Jesus could have stayed in the temple, made some money, and released some cool worship albums. He chose the other path.
His hands weren’t up, they were nailed to the cross.
We are called to pick up our cross and follow him, or are our hands too full already?