Sunday, July 11, 2010

who's my neighbor?

Oscar Grant

Like many, I was both disappointed at the lack of strength of the verdict in the Mehserle trial but pleased that in an unprecedented event, an on-duty officer was found guilty of killing. And like many, I'm disappointed in the few (mostly from out of town) who took advantage of the peaceful protests, by attacking police and looting, but very pleased by those Oaklanders who protested peacefully and tried to keep the peace, and subsequently turned out to clean up and support downtown businesses. The question now is how long of a sentence Mehserle will receive for shooting the unarmed, prone Oscar Grant in the back. I don't know exactly what justice would be in this case, but it's certainly more than a slap on the wrist and time served. I do know it's not killing Johannes Mehserle, even if he'd been convicted of 1st degree murder. The death penalty wouldn't bring Oscar Grant back.

After tensely watching the situation (fortunately not on KRON, which had terrible coverage) and following events on Twitter on Thursday night, K and I went to church on Friday night. We've still been looking for the right church for us here in Oakland, so we've continued to visit a variety of churches. New Birth Church was a different experience for us. It's a plant in Oakland from a large, multi-cultural church in Pittsburg. While it has some of the things we're looking for (good music, full of spirit, outward reaching ministries, etc.) it's probably not the church for us. Not that we weren't made to feel welcome, it just didn't click as 'home' like a church should.

In part we chose to go to New Birth this weekend because it meets Friday night instead of Sunday morning. This Sunday, in about 40 minutes or so is the final of the World Cup between Spain and the Netherlands. Despite the fact the U.S., Mexico, Honduras, and other Oakland favorites aren't in the match, I know that countless people around Oakland will be skipping church or making alternate plans in order to watch it. Even Oakland fire and police chaplain Jayson Landeza will be watching, from Mexico or wherever his roaming has currently taken him.

What do all these people in Oakland have in common? It's all our Oakland. And (whether you're watching the game or not), they're all your neighbors. Today's Gospel in the Lectionary is Luke 10:25-37, the story of the good Samaritan. In one passage, it neatly sums up what the Bible is all about:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

It then goes on to explain that everyone is your neighbor.

That's a sticking point for many people. Everyone? Not just the people here in church with me? (The ones I like, that is.) While the actions of some out-of-town hooligans made me think of some very un-neighborly, un-Christian responses, even those people are our neighbors. Not that they should be let off; but they clearly need some help, too, even if I'm feeling like they need some smiting.

So love your neighbor. The ones next door, the ones across Oakland, the ones across the world. It's all our Oakland, and they're all our neighbors.

1 comment:

oaktownart.com said...

hi gene,

great post. one way to "love your neighbors" (and also have some summertime fun as we've both been writing about) is to host a neighborhood block party on National Night Out, August 3rd. I'm planning to write about it in more depth soon, but in the meantime, here's a link... National Night Out