I spent twelve hours yesterday at the courthouse serving as a Grand Juror. Our charge was to hear from prosecutors and witnesses to determine if enough evidence existed for an indictment. We did not determine guilt or innocence. That comes at the trials. We heard evidence in close to forty cases. By the third one, I turned to my fellow juror and said, “It looks like it’s going to be a depressing day.” After the fourth, he turned to me and said, “It’s not getting any better.” We heard cases from a slice of our society in which criminal acts of all kinds (drugs, passing bad checks, domestic violence, abuse of children, and worse) seem to be common.
As someone studying for the Christian ministry, I repeatedly reminded myself that each and every one of these individuals were made in the image of God. I had to do this or I would lose sight that we were hearing about real people. This was not an episode of CSI. These were my neighbors in my own city and county. These were my neighbors, many of whom will be found guilty of crimes, who have not heard the Good News of a God who loves them. Occasionally, I found myself fighting back tears–God’s tears–when I heard stories of people so wounded that they chose to do horrendous things or were the victims of horrendous things.
As a citizen, I felt good yesterday to be able to do my civic duty. Our police and our justice system is doing what it can to protect all of us. The women and men in law enforcement and in the legal and court system make it possible for each of us to reap the benefits of civilized society but they are fighting a losing battle.
They are fighting a losing battle because as Christians we are ignoring the wounded in our midst. We treat our neighbors within our communities as throw-away people. As church we argue over the color of carpeting forgetting that our work is outside of the church building. In the end, God is less concerned about whether our carpet is a little frayed than about what we have done for others in our community. What are we as Church going to do to dismantle the economic and social systems that wound our sisters and brothers? What actions are we going to take to bring a piece of God’s Kingdom and Kin_dom to the wounded neighbor in our midst?