Name Above All Names

Jesus BillboardI counted five electronic Jesus billboards on a visit to Minnesota recently.  One could be seen from my hotel window.

They were each part of a loop of other electronic messages that included ads for everything from yogurt stores to insurance companies.  I don’t know whether the red, white and blue color scheme was tied to the recent Independence Day holiday or whether it was a “Jesus and America” message or whether somebody just liked those colors.

I’ve been trying to find out who paid for these signs and what they hoped to convey, but no success on that front.  (Minnesotans:  if you have information on this, please weigh in.)

Because I can’t find out anything about these particular billboards, I can’t know the hopes and goals of the folks who paid good money to project the name “Jesus” high up along the highways outside Minneapolis.  I wonder:

  • Do they hope that simply seeing the name “Jesus” along the highway will bring a serene reminder to believers?  Calm down.  Don’t worry.  Think about Jesus.
  • Do they hope that seeing the name “Jesus” – for non-believers – will spark curiosity to the point that some people might check Jesus out when they reach their destination?  Hmm.  Jesus.  I should pick up a Bible and read about Jesus this weekend.
  • Is it a reminder that Jesus is watching us?  I’m going to slow down and obey the speed limit because . . . Jesus.
  • Is it some kind of weird competition with billboards like these?

I got home from MN after not watching or reading the news for a couple days to learn that someone named Alton Sterling was shot by at least one police officer in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.  Mr. Sterling apparently had a criminal record but on the day he died he had been selling CDs in a store parking lot, and it’s not clear that the police were aware of his previous crimes.  It seems to me that – criminal record or not – nobody deserves to be executed in a parking lot.  It’s not even clear if he himself had a gun, although some believed he did.  From the video, it doesn’t look like he was pulling a gun on anyone.

I wonder if having an electronic Jesus billboard overlooking that Triple S Food Mart parking lot might have helped.

Someone or several someones decided it was worth their money to project Jesus’ name along popular Minnesota highways.   But I wish there were more people who simply exemplified Jesus in parking lots and on playgrounds and along sidewalks than people who want to put Jesus’ name in the sky.   I’m at the point, though, where I’m willing to try anything – anything – to stop these shootings of black men.  For the love of God, what is wrong with us?

POSTLUDE: I wrote this post before Philando Castile was shot four times by a police officer in Minneapolis after being pulled over for a broken taillight.  No Jesus sign would have mattered.  Dear God, how do we convince people that Black Lives Matter?

Image taken along a highway in Minnesota yesterday.


One response to “Name Above All Names

  1. Reading every morning about the shootings the night before in Chicago, your last line so resonates.


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