As I watch the news everyday my heart sinks lower and lower in grief. When I read about world events it tugs at my emotions and causes me to utter short prayers of desperation. It’s easy to keep ourselves separate emotionally from pain when there is an ocean between us and the tragedy occurring.
When I see the unrest and the killing happening in our own country, I am grieved to the core because this is our land, and we have a responsibility to live differently. As the church, we have been given a prophetic voice to cry out and live justly (Micah 6:8). No matter the color of the skin or whether the people are peace officers, the violence is like a cheese grater scraping away my soul.
Last weekend we talked about being a people who act justly, who stand for justice and speak out for others. I encourage you to catch the podcast if you missed this powerful and timely message given by Chris and Liz Thrasher Wheatley.
I want to challenge you, as the church of Jesus Christ. Will you live differently? When you see someone who doesn’t look like you, will you go out of your way to catch their eye, say hello and smile? This is just a tiny start, but it could begin to change the way people feel – people who have a different skin color, are homeless or who don’t look like you. It’s profoundly sad to me that there are people in our city who are looked at with suspicion first instead of love. As the body of Christ, we can begin to change this in small ways.
We are a part of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. A few of the leaders in our tribe issued statements on our website about the recent events. The letter from Kelvin Walker carried the most weight with me. I have included his letter and the poem that he wrote as it sums up beautifully the lament in our hearts. May God lead you into a place of reflection and lament as you read it.
From Rev. Kelvin Walker, pastor of Bedford Community Church (New York), president of the C&MA Association of African-American Churches, and C&MA Board member:
All morning long, I’ve been mentally debating what to do or say. My soul is weary, friends. Here we go again. I’ve found that writing is a way for me to process and relate what’s in my soul.
So please give me the space to simply relate the hurt, pain, and fear I’m feeling. And know I’m not the only one. Many of my friends—brothers you also know—feel the same. We’re your pastors, your teachers, your bankers, your neighbors. We sit by you in church and at work and at the ball field. Our kids play together. Yet we’re afraid to tell you what we live with every day. So please don’t brush this off. Take it seriously, and understand our hearts:
A BLACK MAN’S LAMENT
“License and registration . . .”
And within seconds, he’s dead
I’m sorry, y’all, please forgive me
But this is messin’ with my head
Two men in two days . . . this can’t possibly be real
Now we’re at 115 this year (or more—I’ve lost count)
I don’t even know how I feel
I think I’ve just kept quiet out of fear
Would I be treated like Williams and Lecrae
But as one who serves the God of love and justice
There is just no way
I can’t continue in quiet
While I’m weeping in silence
And not be a prophetic voice for change
Because, if I do not say something
Or do something
Or stand for something
Then Alton and Philando have both died in vain
It’s time to admit it and own it and deal with it
Or more black men will be lost
Without us addressing it
I can’t wake up another day like this
And before you think I’m over-dramatizing things
I HAVE been stopped for no reason
On MANY occasions
And when I go into the store, I’m ALWAYS aware
All eyes are on me for more than just a stare
This is not made up; this is for real
And as long as we’re silent, then nothing will heal
And more lives will be lost
And I, for one, am tired
Tired of living in fear, so please hear
I’m not asking you to “get it”
I just want you to understand
This isn’t the rant of “an angry black man”
It’s a Black Man’s Lament
That won’t just go away
The shame of it is I wake up with it every day
What will I do? What mistake will I make?
What turn will I turn that puts my life at stake?
I try to think differently—believe me, it’s no fun
But with every news report I think
Will I be the next one?
Or my sons?
Or my grandsons, if nothing is done?
‘Cause I’m 50 years old
To date, nothing has changed
So why should I have hope for my grandsons?
Dear God! They CAN’T stay the same!
So I ask you, don’t debate me
Join my lament instead
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get inside my head
And see what I see and live what I live
And feel what I feel and understand why I give
Or am giving my voice to say, “No more. This has to stop!”
And then, don’t just lament with me
Join me in saying, “NO MORE!’