Last week I served on a panel sponsored by The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. The webinar was “Standing on Holy Ground Against Gun Violence.”  It is a year-long study “What congregations can do about it.” One of the other panelist was Rev. CeCe Armstrong. She is the Associate Pastor at St. James Presbyterian in Charleston, South Carolina and pastored in the aftermath of the shooting at Mother Emanuel Church. As we presented and then answered questions, Rev. Armstrong forcefully made the argument that the least faithful action we can take is not being engaged in confronting the “evil of gun violence or any evil we deplore” and she said that being engaged begins by being vocal… by speaking up, by speaking out and sometimes even shouting loudly. She was speaking in a language that I didn’t want to hear but clearly heard. I remember a quote by Martin Niemöller:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
What are we to say about the murder of George Floyd? This is uncharacteristic for me to say (I think of myself more radical then I am) and yet I use the word murder not only because a third degree murder and a manslaughter charge has been filed against Derek Chauvin but also because I watched the video and saw what everyone else saw. Four white police officers were involved.  Three of them are seen kneeling over a handcuffed African American lying on his back. Officer Chauvin had his left knee between Mr. Floyd’s head and neck for eight plus minutes. What are we to say? What do we do with the rage of what is being expressed? How do we make any meaning at what is going on night after night? I am reminded of a quote by Dr. King, who said that “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 6:1-4
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.  My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.

Reflection Questions:
What do you do when you don’t understand someone?
What is languishing within your heart?
What do you do with Dr. King’s words…“a riot is the language
of the unheard”?

Prayer:  
Holy God, I don’t know what to do and yet I trust you to help me better understand so I can be more helpful in the midst of the rage that is being expressed. Let me be guided by faith and not fear.  Deliver us from the injustice we’re creating.  Amen.

 

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