Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr
I started this post over a year ago. I’m afraid. Afraid to speak. Afraid I will offend. Afraid of my own ignorance. Afraid of offering meaningless, tidy answers to complex problems that aren’t. going. away.
This day felt like a day to be brave.
My friend Carrie said on Facebook …
“I have been trying to figure out how to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. today.
My white privilege has reduced him to quotes taken out of context, tidying him up and wrapping a bow around him so that he is no longer threatening or subversive, just an admirable black leader.
And yet –
he was so much more.
He was radical.
He was outspoken and uncomfortable and suspicious to many white folk especially.
He challenged the systems.
He condemned violence of ALL kinds.
And he had a fierce, deep love of the Giver of All Things, from Whom came all of his strength and courage and fight.
I want my children to know about the REAL Martin Luther King, Jr.
I want my children to understand that anything worth fighting for inevitably costs us something.
And I want my children to know that the fight Martin Luther King, Jr. literally gave his life for is not over.
May we honor this man’s life by linking arms with renewed passion to actively love our neighbor and to fiercely advocate for one another.”
This is how I honor him today.
It feels like the world is on fire … and in the dog days of this summer, I am burning from the inside out.
I am acutely aware of my whiteness.
My relative affluence.
My personal safety and freedom to live openly as a follower of Christ.
Ferguson, MO and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have dominated the news cycle over the past month, the top two of many overwhelming tragedies occuring this year.
So when the flames are licking at our soul, when we watch the news and feel like a garden hose at a wildfire …
How do we love with actions in truth?
First, we pray. We pray biblically and specifically. As privileged, wealthy voices, we have a unique opportunity to have conversations about race and class in culturally segregated spaces. We pray for our hearts, for our motives, and above all, for the permeation of grace and the gospel in all we do,
Then, we LISTEN.
Listen to these people, for a start:
The Price of Blackness http://gawker.com/the-price-of-blackness-1622972582
Christianity Today has an excellent list of ways to listen and respond. http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/november/decision-in-ferguson-how-should-evangelicals-respond.html
( I have more to add here … in the meantime, I suggest searching for #goingthere, started by blogger and speaker Deidra Riggs in the wake of Ferguson).
No matter the side you hail from, there are souls who bear His image who are suffering, who are dying. They are known, and knitted by the Almighty, the Namer and Counter of stars, and He cares for them.
Have grace and mercy, for all parties.
And Christians, when we wade into the political fray, WE REPRESENT CHRIST, and that should be reflected in our tone and our word choice.
So much more has happened in the wake of Ferguson. Charleston. Eric Garner in New York. Tamir Rice in Cleveland. Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Sandra Bland in Texas. The video released of Laquan McDonald in Chicago.
There is a whole lot of other hard things unfolding, have unfolded that bear on my heart today as well, some 400 plus days later. ISIS. Syria. Starving babies. Refugees. Loss. The ugly, contentious rhetoric in our political process. My soul is aching for the weight of it.
There is a whole movement of bloggers who choose one word for the year. I did that two years ago. I blogged about it once. Thought about it a few more times, didn’t actually write about it.
I have commitment issues.
I’m skipping the word this year. Instead, I’m pleading with the Lord.
Help me to see.
Help me to see black lives matter. Help me to see the margins, the homeless, the hungry. Help me to see the hard work of those who do stand in the gap with integrity and care for those they serve. Help me to see the ways in which I can remake my world, the whole world, with peace, and with the gospel always at the tip of my tongue.
Friends, this is my prayer for us.
Help us to see.
Help us to listen-first to the Holy Spirit,
but also to our fellow Image bearers.
May we speak in mercy, in love, and in Truth.
May we always work in service to the Kingdom of Heaven,
eyes open, hearts humble,