God, our challenger and disturber, help us to confront all that makes for death and despair in our lives, our communities, our world. May we never lose sight of the possibility of transformation and be continually surprised by people who believe in each other. AMEN (Iona Community)
Most everything I needed to learn in this life I learned because I made a mistake. At the age of 11 or so I was playing softball, and it was a rare occasion when my dad was there. One of the girls on my team dropped a fly ball. I felt it was not cool, that she laughed it off. I mean she should have felt bad about it, perhaps acted angry with herself that she let the tying run on base. But she did not or, if she did, she did not show enough remorse after that run scored and we got the final out. We were running off the field, and I got in her face. I was really angry and I let it fly, so much that my coach did not let me back out on the field.
After the game, I was still red faced with anger, and my Dad was not happy and told me I had embarrassed myself and that he hoped I would do the right thing and apologize to my team.
My father wanted me to fix the relationship I had damaged with this girl and my team. I was resistant, and he asked me what I felt when that girl dropped the ball. I said that I was angry, and he asked if I had ‘seen red’ and I was shocked, I said I did, surprised at the term and that my very calm collected Dad nailed how I felt. He said he knew because that is what his anger was like, he saw red, and that he had to learn not to let it take over his life, and his choices.
All my life I’ve heard his voice in my head as I tried to pull my anger back. I did not understand fully at age 11 how it would benefit me in life; I wanted to make my Dad proud of me. It is and has been a life time of work not to let my anger out, sometimes I need it, but more often than not it gets in the way of listening, of learning, and of being the person I honestly believe God wants me to be.
Most everything needed to learn in this life I learned because I made a mistake. And I was in a relationship with someone who could help me; hold it up, made me look at it. It was why my Dad made an impact and my coach did not.
In the Gospel today the disciples are asked to come, they are called, and they listen and they show up.
Now in this time we are called, and we have not looked away, we have shown up. Our siblings in Christ, our siblings who have suffered at the hands of police brutality, have been calling out, and we did not step up, and we must step up and keep stepping up. It is who we are as a called people.
The Rev. Cannon Stephanie Spellers says, “Because “God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them….” (Gen 1:27). You spit on a child of God, you’re spitting on God. And if somebody’s spitting on God, people of faith HAVE to step up. It’s not optional. It’s not “two sides.” Step up with and for the holy One who has been kicked, shot, choked, crucified, denied. Step up because oppressive systems dim the beneficiaries’ divine spark and full humanity. For the love of God, step up.”
We are called, we must not look away. Stepping up is not taking over. White people need to step back and listen, we must hear. Black activists have been calling for change and we have as a society listened for a moment and then went on our way. Our humanity is on the line here. We cannot pay attention for a brief moment and go back. We need to pay attention to the young activists we are calling for real change and we must not get in the way.
Today’s post said this, “Law enforcement lower its profile, improve access to sites, eases tension, lifts spirits.” It is a brilliant strategy, we can feel that change has happened and move on, and if we do not work for systemic change, the grind of oppression on our siblings who are POC will renew and continue.
I do not know what that is like; I have never been the target of that day-to-day grind of oppression. We have people all around who know what it is like to be unjustly stopped, to be followed around a store, to be challenged every day for their right to take up space.
What I do know is this, one protest is not enough. Real systemic change is work that we are called to, our humanity is on the line. Our sisters and Brothers/siblings lives are on the line. We need to not be satisfied that the Mayor painted Black lives Matter, we might enjoy it in the moment, but we need to ask the mayor about the values inherent in her budget proposal. We are clearly told where your treasures lie there is where your heart is. Mayor Murial Bowser’s proposed budget increases funding for traditional policing while cutting spending on programs to reduce violence through community-based intervention initiatives.
Our work is before us, our humanity is on the line. We learn because we be quiet and listen, we learn because we are in relationship, we change because we create mutual dependency, and we are not satisfied when the powers that be tell us that the work is done, we listen to that spark of the divine and reach out until the work is done.
God our challenger and disturber, help us to confront all that makes for death and despair in our lives, our communities, our world. May we never lose sight of the possibility of transformation and be continually surprised by people who believe in each other. AMEN