Friday, May 09, 2008
A Prayer For the City
The City of Brotherly Love has had a long history of tense relations between its police department and the African-American community. These relations however only mirror those which exist between our black and white communities. Tensions reached a boiling point recently when a police officer was attacked and murdered by a bank robber who wielded a weapon similar to an AK-47. Few if any words can adequately express the grief this public servant’s wife, three children, siblings, neighbors and fellow officers must endure now. This was followed a several police officers caught on tape punching and kicking three suspects following a short chase through North Philadelphia. Sadly in an all too often repeat of our city’s past these incidents ripped open the tense ethnic atmosphere we’ve endured for multiple decades.
For those who aren’t familiar with our past and present it’s pretty much true that Philadelphia is not one city but at least three and possibly more. One city consists of long time working class whites descended from ethnic immigrants who came to America in successive waves in the past two centuries. Added to this are a mixture of working class African-Americans who descend from those who in the early 1920’s and 30’s moved to northern cities in droves to escape the crushing weight of southern racism. The new kids on the block are the mostly young, white urban professionals who have resettled center city and its surrounding neighborhoods. We mainly live in our own sections and among our own kind. And even where there is surface diversity it can by no means be defined as integration.
For the most part we stay out of each others way and rarely live as one city except for major sports happenings like a World Series or Superbowl appearance. That one exception was the election of Mayor Michael Nutter who was chosen by an overwhelming majority of Philadelphians from all three groups. And our mayor, the police department and our city could use your prayers right now. There have been reports of increased police brutality against African-American men and some within the black community have voiced a concern that the police have declared open season on black males. Most everyone is sick and tired with the crime, guns and violence in the city and we want something done about it.
From where I sit there are no easy answers to the dilemma we face. The fears, suspicions, mistrust, misgivings and hostility that’s infected the soul of Philly hasn’t diminished in years and appears only to be growing worse. So please pray that the church of the living God becomes an actual light in this present darkness that inflicts our city. By God’s grace there are churches that represent all three groups. Pray that we’d come together and with humility and grace demonstrate the power of God’s glorious gospel to bring harmony out of hostility. And when you see or hear a news report about us please take just a few moments and say a prayer for the city.
To Him Who Loves Us…