It’s a scary video to watch. My friend, Scott, caught quite the scene on his camera at the CAV’s hometown victory celebration in downtown Cleveland yesterday. In the video, you’ll see a young girl who had climbed-up to a very high second story ledge with her boyfriend to get a good view of LeBron James and the CAV’s parade below but, then, didn’t know how to get herself down.

What impressed me about the situation is how many people were hoping and praying that the girl didn’t fall and seriously injure herself. In fact, after a group of people caught her, the crowd roared with delight that she was safe.

It seems to me that there a lot of people in America today who are on the edge, too. They’ve lost jobs and opportunities. They’re struggling to keep-up in an unstable and uncertain economy. And more and more, America’s losing its once proud and successful social safety net. People are falling and there are fewer resources to help catch them.

But what Scott’s video reminds me of is that if we’d just stop listening for a minute to the media and the politics of fear, which tend to blame or demonize those who struggle, you’ll find that people are essentially good-willed and don’t want to let each other fall. In fact, turn off the television or computer and tune-out the political rhetoric and social-media vitriol and you’ll find that even in a crowd of 1.3 million people, the estimated attendance in downtown Cleveland yesterday, most people want and will do some very generous things if you let them. It’s in our godly DNA. As Russell Simmons, Def Jam records co-founder and humanitarian once said, “compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.” Give people and chance to express that highest-self, the divine self, and they will.

I pray that in the thick of this election season, no matter who wants to build walls, cut taxes, make deals, close schools, decrease care, blame the poor for being poor, or leave any friend or stranger out on a ledge, that we might remember the image of a crowd of good people in downtown Cleveland who would not let a young girl perish.

Ending Gun ViolenceMany will recognize that, below, I have updated Martin Niemöller’s famous verse. Given the horrific massacre in Orlando, Florida this past weekend, I feel an overwhelming need to “speak out” against the rampant gun violence in America.

First they came to Columbine High School and murdered 12 students and a teacher, and I uttered under my breath “How awful, Lord!”
But I did not speak out—
Because I was not a high school student.

Then one came to Newtown, Connecticut and murdered 20 little children and 6 of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I cried, “How utterly sad, Lord!”
But I did not speak out—
Because I was sure our government would finally do something.

Then they came to San Bernardino, a husband and wife, and murdered 14 civilians and injured 22 more, and I whispered, “How terrible, Lord!” But I did not speak out-
Because California is a long way away from Ohio.

Then one came to a night club in Orlando, riddled the room with bullets and massacred 49 gays and injured 53 others, and I said, “How Horrific, Lord!”
But I did not speak out –
Because I am not gay.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

– R. Mark Giuliano

Ending Gun ViolenceThis speech and prayer was offered at Tri-C last fall for a Community Health Forum on ending gun violence. In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando this past weekend, I just felt a need to share it today. Please join me in (re)committing ourselves to doing what is right and ending the gun insanity in America!

Please note: There will be an Orlando prayer vigil tonight (Monday June 13th).

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I was honored to have been the invited invocational speaker as Rotary Club of Cleveland and Rotary International honored Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. 

Acts 2:1-21 RMG Translation

 

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together at the Old Stone Church. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind off of Lake Erie, and it filled the entire church where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Republicans, media specialists, security forces and protesters from every State in America visiting Cleveland. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Clevelanders? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Californians, Texans, Arizonans, and residents of Oregon and Washington, Kansas and Nebraska, Indiana and Pennsylvania, 10Alaska and Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, and visitors from New England and New York, Jews and Muslims, Christians and seekers, atheists and agnostics—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of love and power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

But others sneered and took photos with their cell phones. Some posted: “These Christians are drunk on the new wine.” Others Tweeted, “Look at the Old Stoners!”

But standing as one in Christ, the Old Stone Church raised its voice and addressed them, “People of America and all who live in Cleveland, let this be known to you, listen to what we say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning and the party really doesn’t get going ‘till sometime after noon.

No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel who said: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my servants, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

-RMG

May 15, 2016

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I’m feeling just a wee bit proud today, Earth Day 2016! Click here to read 2 important articles from the May/June edition of Presbyterians Today, our national magazine.

The first is called Windmills Optional (pp10-11), which I wrote. The second, Greening Our Cities (p16-20), offers some great accolades to the Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland for the work we are doing in the city in the area of planning and eco-justice.