In Featured, Pastor Paul's Blog

Today’s Word: ‘Intersection’ as in… a garden is growing in the intersection of 38th and Chicago.

Ethan Miller, Matt Johnson and I recently met on a quiet street in Minneapolis; we were there in the muggy, early morning hours to capture video for the weekend’s message. Ethan brought along several pounds of video equipment; cameras, microphones, iPads, etc. Matt brought his mystical sense for sound and surroundings. I brought my head and heart full of sermon, ready, as my colleagues would say, “to preach my face off.” We were heading toward the intersection of 38th and Chicago.

From Bancroft Elementary School, we made our way through the Phillips Neighborhood toward Cup Foods. To my pleasant surprise, the intersection marking the death and honoring the life of George Floyd is now being transformed from a haphazard collection site of memorials to grief and anger into something beautiful and life giving. At the very place where a human life ended, a garden is now beginning to grow. What was initially a circle in the middle of the intersection filled with flowers, teddy bears, posters, candles and ribbons, is now a thriving garden. Small signs of hope are growing up out of the middle of the intersection: flowers and plants are neatly planted into rich soil and mulch.

Just days after George Floyd was killed in the intersection of 38th and Chicago, Nancy Lee and I spent some time there trying to come to grips with the tragedy that took place on the evening of May 25, 2020.

But not only what happened at that particular place, on that particular date, at that particular time to that particular man, but really what has taken place in countless places at countless times to countless numbers of people of color throughout our history.

The intersection of 38th and Chicago is becoming the intersection between where we’ve been and where we’re going. It is the intersection between the old world of oppression and injustice and the new world of liberty and justice for all.

In Isaiah 65, God promises to make all things new. The Good News is that freedom and justice will prevail. It’s God’s vision of liberty and justice for all to whose dreams of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been stolen by some other vision. Isaiah 65 is the reminder that God is always up to something new, bold, different, something life giving for all people. And that is the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

As the first week of July unfolds and as we gather to celebrate our country’s 244th birthday, perhaps no more than ever we wrestle with this one important question: are we willing to step into the intersection to make God’s new vision for a new world a new reality?


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