Sitting Shiva

I am grateful to our Bishop Mike McKee for offering to deliver a Pentecost sermon this Sunday, because frankly I do not have the energy or focus this week. I mentioned in a previous sermon that even though I am inclined to auto-respond "fine" when asked how I am doing, I was not doing fine that week. This week I'm still not there. After seeing a white woman call the police and claim her life was threatened by a Black man in Central Park-- when all he asked her to do was leash her dog, which is clearly posted-- then the murder in plain sight of a George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, and the subsequent threat of violence by the President of the United States against peaceful protesters, after earlier this month encouraging armed protesters resisting stay at home orders designed to keep the public safe...

I just can't. I don't have words.

Other colleagues have posted reflections on the racial dynamics going on right now. I am choosing a different path, at least for now: I'm sitting shiva. It's an ancient practice of silently sharing in the mourning and grief of others. I'm choosing to resist the impulse to speak out of my place of privilege into the anger of my African American brothers and sisters, not to protect myself or to enable future injustice to occur by my silence or inaction. I am choosing silent solidarity so that I can listen to your voices and then use whatever resources I have to bring about the promised justice I profess as a follower of Jesus Christ and a minister of his gospel.

Here is what I am offering as an act of shiva: resources I have introduced, or re-introduced, myself to in recent months. The wisdom and knowledge I have gained through these books, movies, and documentaries have helped to sustain me and feed my desire to live in to God's vision of justice and peace for all people. The thing is: we have to make the vision become reality.

I Am Not Your Negro
When They See Us
Who Killed Malcolm X?
LA 92
What Happened, Miss Simone?
LA Originals
The Hate You Give (the book; I haven't seen the film)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Malcolm X (going to show this to the boyos this weekend; last week would have been Malcolm's 95th birthday)

It's a short list, and there are many more to be added. But it's a start. Considering what's been happening in Minneapolis the last couple of days, I highly recommend LA 92.

Words from Psalm 55:
My heart is in anguish within me,
   the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
   and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, ‘O that I had wings like a dove!
   I would fly away and be at rest;
truly, I would flee far away;
   I would lodge in the wilderness;
I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
   from the raging wind and tempest.’
Confuse, O Lord, confound their speech;
   for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around it
   on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
   ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
   do not depart from its market-place.
But I call upon God,
   and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
   I utter my complaint and moan,
   and he will hear my voice.
He will redeem me unharmed
   from the battle that I wage,
   for many are arrayed against me.
God, who is enthroned from of old,
   will hear, and will humble them—
because they do not change,
   and do not fear God.
Cast your burden on the Lord,
   and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
   the righteous to be moved.