West Franklin Family,

It’s funny, isn’t it? When you just hear the name “George” – if you’re like me, anyway – you think of a white man. If you add the name “Floyd” to it, everything changes. The name “George Floyd” has changed a lot in recent days.

I feel compelled to write this morning for several reasons I will share below.

One, you need to know that what you will watch today on-line was recorded on Tuesday, May 26th. If we were live and in person, I am not sure what I would say in light of the racial unrest in our country – in our own town (Nashville) – but we would, at the very least, spend time praying for God’s kingdom to come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So, would YOU pray that today?

Two, the sermon topic is judging others. I have found myself doing a lot of that, even since I preached on it Tuesday! Depending on the images that come across my screen, I judge a cop or protesters or political figure heads, or those on my social media feed. Here’s the deal. None of us know their stories. None of us know their circumstances. Had we had their exact same history, we would have done/be doing the exact same thing. Pray for their souls to know the love of Jesus. Pray for your own heart to beat like Jesus. Were it not for the amazing grace of Jesus, where would we be?

Three, in the past several years, West Franklin has been led to minister and show the love of Jesus to two groups of people in our city: The remarkable Franklin Police Department AND the incredible people who live on Natchez Street. The Father has opened doors for us to work for and with each other to make a kingdom impact. Let’s not for one second let the enemy get in our heads or in these situations to slow any of this kingdom progress down. Thank the Father for the Franklin Police Department. Because of them, we get to sleep soundly at night. Pray for their wisdom and character and safety and insight as they seek to protect us. Thank the Father for the men and women and boys and girls on Natchez Street. Learn from them. Know them. Love them. Pray for their wisdom and character and safety and insight and hearts through all of this.

Four, I went to bed last night watching a chaotic downtown Nashville. I woke up struggling. Should I hurt more? Should I be angry? Should I say something to the church I lead? This isn’t Nashville, is it? Memphis maybe, but not Nashville? Atlanta or Minneapolis or Chicago maybe, but Nashville? What does Birti (my African daughter) think of all this? Should I protect her? Talk about it? Process with her? Is she ready? I woke up, and here are the two passages I read this morning – the two passages that were next up on my daily reading. In other words, I didn’t go searching. These were the texts scheduled in my daily plan.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:8-9

. . . petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. . .” 1 Timothy 2:1-5

God is always talking if I would but listen. My immediate takeaways? First, for those of us who can, we must speak up for all who are destitute. Red and yellow, black and white – they are all precious in His sight. Second, the Gospel IS mediation. The Gospel IS reconciliation. There is one God and one MEDIATOR. . . Followers of Jesus do unto others as we are allowing God do unto us. I am not exactly sure what this looks like for me in these situations. I don’t know what this looks like for you. I am not yet sure how this fleshes out through our church. But followers of Jesus are about mediating peace between people. Reconciling differences in and through the name of Jesus. We are a people defined by our attachment to Jesus, period.

Finally, I am not sure where you are emotionally. I am guessing pretty drained. 2020 has been a dumpster fire. I wonder how many of us longed to be with the two astronauts who left earth yesterday? If I were them, I may decide to stay up there until 2021. I am not sure what your opinions are about masks or the government’s handling of the virus or protests or whether or not there will be college football this season or when we should return to church. But if you are a follower of Jesus, I imagine you long for His return. It’s time, Lord. Join me in praying this: “Come, Lord Jesus

When I hear the name “George,” my immediate thought is not of a black man. When I hear the name “George Floyd”? A flood of thoughts run to my mind. What does the name “Jesus” invoke in you? Let’s spend the day today praying for His name to be known and treasured throughout our city, state, country, and world.

Hallowed Be His Name,

Pastor Matt