Yesterday I baptized our daughter. It happened on the Feast of Pentecost, after a night of protests, riots, and looting across the country.
Those who were able to join us outside early on Sunday morning celebrated the breath of the Holy Spirit breathed upon the first Christians millennia ago, and then witnessed the breath of the Holy Spirit breathed into the soul of my daughter.
And we did so on the same week that we also witnessed an image-bearer of God pleading for, and eventually losing, his breath.
A few miles down the road from our celebration of baptism, Bishop Anthony Burton was preaching a sermon that is well worth your time. As I listened to it last night, and again this morning, I found it to be convicting, encouraging, and somehow full of both lament and hope.
As a white man who has never experienced fear, shame, suspicion, or violence due to the color of my skin, I have very little to say about how we can heal and grow as a society. I am sure that there are policies and practices that can help stop the bleeding, and I am grateful for those who know more than I do about which ones might work and which ones certainly won’t.
But as a dad, a Priest, and a school leader I do know this: true transformation takes far more than a change in policy and practice. Changing the rules can help for now, but what we need more than anything is changed hearts.
We need breath.
The wind of Pentecost blown into our hearts, and into the hearts of our children.
Perhaps this 15-minute sermon is a good place to start processing how we can respond, not in despair and pride, but in lament and hope.
Lament for a Nation: George Floyd and the Promise of Pentecost, Bishop Anthony Burton