Assemblies of God Theological SeminaryDecember 2014
Hillsides and Viral Photos!

I must admit that the tragedies represented in Ferguson, New York City, and Cleveland pose, to even the most positive person, a significant barrier for gaining traction toward hopeful resolution. Try as I might, I know I have blind spots in understanding these tragic events as my African-American or law enforcement friends may see them. As much as I care about understanding the current tragic episodes where the wounds of mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color have been reopened, I am feeling increasingly helpless as to where to begin.  


But there might just be in the now famous photo taken in Portland, Oregon, a glimmer of light. The glimpse of a police officer and an African-American young man hugging provides more than nostalgia or even the longed for emotional quick fix. There may actually be an opening for wisdom to shine through. What we could be looking at may symbolize a doorway of hope. Two human beings meet by chance. They are from two different walks of life striving to relate to one another beyond stereotypes, statistics, and shrill rhetoric. Here was a moment captured in a photo where two human beings put aside "the stuff of life" and reach for a common humanity framed in a desire to live peaceable and meaningful lives.


In my mind's eye, I juxtaposed that poignant image with my favorite narrative of the Advent season as framed in Luke 2:8-20. It is the story of the shepherds to whom is famously announced the birth of the baby Jesus. They are a segment of society marginalized into the social category of "loser." Justice is longed for, but in short supply. It is into that cauldron of pain that the announcement of hope comes first to the loser, thus bypassing the obvious power players of the day. The good news is streamed live to folks for whom any news is regularly just more bad news.


My heart simply mourns the continuing racial tensions in our nation that are the legacy of a long history of unresolved injustices. I'm just one person trying to understand, knowing that even the most civil of conversations can turn, in an instant, into deep pain. But I will resist giving into despair, because I believe the good news of great joy is for all the people. That good news transcended all the stuff of those shepherds long ago and actually motivated them to act in uncharacteristically hopeful ways to pursue the "good news tweet" given by the angels; that something life-changing was occurring in Bethlehem. That event in Bethlehem would break the back of their place in life to live with societal limitations, low expectations, and feeble hopes that were the "same old same old" they lived daily. So, I will hobble into Advent because limping may be the best any of us can do this season, but my face is turned to the Bethlehem hillside and to that viral photo in Portland. They just may be the glimpse we all need that can bring a sliver of good news to Ferguson, Staten Island, and Cleveland and all the people this Advent season.      


Byron D. Klaus, President





Sign up to receive the Prez Release by email.
1435 N. Glenstone
Springfield, Missouri 65802
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary