At two o’clock today, over seven hundred people will gather here at Riverside Church to see the film “The Central Park 5.” This film proclaims release to the captives. It tells the terribly untold story of how in 1989, the City of New York – D.A., police, people, media, mayor, more – convicted five boys of a violent and bloody rape without any evidence except their own deceitfully forced confessions; and how, as grown men, the captives were released and finally exonerated in 2002, when the real rapist at last identified himself; and how, since 2002, our news media have showed no passion for the truth in any way matched to their former passion for the myth of evil boys out on a “wilding.” Our city has resisted paying these men any damages. Justice delayed is justice denied.
About all this, you can learn much more this afternoon – if you have a ticket. Here’s the point for this morning. I went to see The Central Park 5 at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem on a Sunday last December. Seven hundred thronged the small hall. This Sabbath afternoon, the church will be packed with people who don’t go in for church, but who will come here to hear proclaimed good news to the poor, release to the captives, and new eyes for the blind. The eyes of all will certainly be fixed on that film! Look, what Jesus felt impelled to say on his first day of work, and what thousands on thousands of our citizens long to hear proclaimed, are one and the same word. Release! But here this morning, we’re fewer than that throng will be this afternoon. What has the morning to learn from the afternoon about breaking through to the future? We’ll try an answer to that question presently, but first, let’s learn a little more from our Jewish brother Jesus.