Monday, July 11, 2016

Look for the Helpers

I'm sure that many readers of this blog have seen the video clip above before, or read it somewhere. Fred Rogers invited us, in the aftermath of tragedies, to "look for the helpers."  I've taken that to heart this week, after the tragedies last week in Baton Rouge, and in Falcon Heights, and in Dallas. I'm sure there are lots of helpers out there but I want to call attention to three of them who have captured my heart and imagination, and who are in my prayers this week.

First is Dallas Police Chief, David Brown. His compelling story, his courage, his leadership this week have inspired me. I am also reminded that leadership at a national level is so very difficult, especially in polarizing times. So is local leadership. But in cities and towns like Dallas and Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights and Worcester, people can come face-to-face. Pastors and police chiefs and mayors can make a difference. A police department cannot become "color blind" in this nation that has inherited so much racism. But a police department can work at becoming better. Would that we could find and raise up more of them like David Brown. If we can, then we will be alright as a nation.

Second is Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastor of The Potter's House Mega-Church in Dallas. Now I'm not a big megachurch guy and I really don't know much about Jakes' theology. But I admire him for turning Sunday worship into a forum on race. I admire him for using his position to create space for conversation. In the Episcopal Church that I love, most of the clergy I know (including me) preached in one way or another this weekend about the events of the past week. And we prayed for the victims. But we preachers need to do more than talk and pray. We especially need to listen. But we also need to act. We need to find creative ways to use the authority we do have - inside and outside of our church buildings - to bring people together. So I see Jakes as one of the helpers this week.

And third, Dr. Brian Williams, a trauma surgeon at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Watch his interview on the link above - very powerful. He spoke with passion about his care for the police officers who came into his unit and his frustration at not being able to save them. But he also spoke poignantly about his own experience as a black man in America, and how he is often afraid of police when he's not in his own uniform at work. He spoke as a peacemaker - as a truth-teller - as a helper.

I am going to keep looking for the helpers and encourage readers of this blog to do the same - and to share your stories as you come across them. And then, by God's grace, to find ways to be helpers wherever you may find yourself, to be agents of healing and reconciliation in a broken world.

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