On That Day
I'm going to have to be a real a second.
It feels like the end of the world right now.
Over the past three months, we've struggled through a global pandemic, lockdowns, quarantines, financial crises... and now our cities are on fire with protests over racial injustice.
We shouldn't be surprised by this. For so many people all of the built-up tension, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty suddenly has a focus.
But for our siblings in the black community, this focus is nothing new. This has been their reality all along. And what we are seeing all over our country is exactly what Langston Hughes described in his poem "Dream Deferred":
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
The dreams of equality, human flourishing, peace, and safety in their neighborhoods, justice for those who have been oppressed... all of those dreams have yet to be realized in the black communities around our country.
COVID-19 has become a mirror for us in so many ways--revealing the disparity that exists in our country between classes, race and even gender.
We have a choice to make at this moment in history. We can keep cursing the darkness as so many have done and continue to do, or we can light a candle... a lot of candles... all of the candles.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught us that the only way to defeat a common enemy is to put the needs of others ahead of our own. And right now, our black siblings in America need the rest of us to know their suffering, to feel their pain---as much as we are able.
And to put their needs ahead of our own for a while... maybe a long while.
You should also know that you can speak out against and condemn systemic racism, injustice, and inequality while also condemning the destruction that has been caused by the riots happening all over our cities. It's not an either-or thing.
But the time for standing apart from the suffering of the black community--and indeed for all marginalized communities--has to end. Those of us who call ourselves Jesus-followers need to do more, we need to feel more.
Fr. Richard Rohr once wrote:
Suffering is the necessary deep feeling of the human situation. if we don't feel pain, suffering, human failure, and weakness, we stand antiseptically apart from it and remain numb and small. We can't fully understand such things by thinking about them.There have also been signs of hope in the midst of all this. There are moments where the kingdom of God is present because those with power chose to stand with the suffering.
I've been inspired by many of the images that I've seen from across the country of protestors and police officers marching together. In one city, police officers took a knee while protestors marched. In another, the chief of police helped lead the march, holding a sign that had the words "Stop lynching now."
Just as the Crucified Christ is present in the moments of sorrow, suffering, and lament, the Risen Christ is present in those glorious moments of resurrection---moments when the light shines in the darkness.
There is much for us to do in the coming weeks and months. But for now, we can sit shiva with our black siblings, coming alongside them in their grief and anger.
And we can hold in our hearts the defiant hope of a day when we will all stand together in the light in the unbridled joy that the shadow of death has been lifted forever...
And on that day, all tears will be wiped away and there will be justice for all, peace for all, life and love for all.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.