Over the last seven days, there have been literally hundreds of pictures displayed on television, in newspapers, and through on-line media outlets. Pictures that grab your attention. Pictures that grab your heart. Pictures that grab your emotions.
As the old saying goes… “one picture is worth a thousand words.”
Today, allow me to offer you Three Pictures that are speaking to me right now. Maybe these pictures might speak to you as well.
This one picture, this one event, has served to turn an already distraught nation into a war zone. On Memorial Day, May 25, one human life ended at the knee of one who had sworn to protect the public from harm. This one man, George Floyd, made in the image of God, had his life ended by another man, made in the image of God. A tragedy beyond words.
As the nation reels from the backlash caused by Picture One, you would hope and pray for a national leader to respond wisely, speaking with calm, reassuring the broken and wounded, while offering hope and promise to all Americans for a better tomorrow. Instead, on Monday, June 1 (one week after the tragedy in Minneapolis) and with the streets of Washington DC filled with a mixture of peaceful mourners, angry citizens, and yes, violence-seeking revolutionists, our President decided to make an example of them all, lumping them together as one. At 6:30 pm (a half-hour before the 7 pm curfew went into effect) our President used his unlimited power to have well-armed soldiers violently clear away several city blocks of what, up until that time of day, had been a fairly peaceful demonstration. All of this so he could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church, hold up a Bible, and inform all Americans that he was in charge and that he is the President of Law and Order.
Picture Number 3:
In the summer of 1969, as racial tensions were sweeping the country, motel owners and city officials in the South were throwing bleach into swimming pools where blacks were swimming. When Fred Rogers heard about those atrocities, he decided to make a statement that would address the racism, but do so in such a way that even a child would understand.
Francois Clemmons played Officer Clemmons on Fred’s show, so one day, Fred decided to share a foot bath with Officer Clemmons on one hot day in the neighborhood.
“He invited me to come over and to rest my feet in the water with him,” Clemmons recalls. “The icon Fred Rogers not only was showing my brown skin in the tub with his white skin as two friends, but as I was getting out of that tub, he was helping me dry my feet.” Clemmons says he’ll never forget the day Rogers wrapped up the program, as he always did, by hanging up his sweater and saying, “You make every day a special day just by being you, and I like you just the way you are.” This time in particular, Rogers had been looking right at Clemmons, and after they wrapped, he walked over. Clemmons asked him, “Fred, were you talking to me?”
“Yes, I have been talking to you for years,” Rogers said, as Clemmons recalls. “But you heard me today.”
“It was like telling me I’m OK as a human being,” Clemmons says. “That was one of the most meaningful experiences I’d ever had.”
So, here are the questions I’m pondering today as I gaze at these Three Pictures…
Which of these three iconic pictures are speaking to me today? Where is my heart during these radically-intense times? How will I respond? How might you respond?
My prayer is that I might find creative ways, as Mr. Rogers did, to show His Christian faith to others in a way that will build up and encourage, not tear down and destroy.
May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You.