Sunday, July 10, 2016 by Trayce Stewart

Black Lives Matter: A Pastoral-Prophetic Response

Second Chance Christian Church

ISIS proudly claims the deadly attacks launched in the Middle East and parts of Europe. Fifty lives cut short at a club shooting in Orlando. The painful reminders that Black lives again don’t matter from Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas. The demands that Jesse Williams be fired from Grey’s Anatomy for his “racist rant” at the BET Awards. A presidential candidate that spews outright hatred and alienation toward anyone who doesn’t look like him or share his world views. The tragedies that go unnamed and noticed here and abroad on a daily basis. These are the stories that headline our news every day and it is emotionally and spiritually draining.

During the Civil Rights Movement the words “we shall overcome someday” rang out throughout cities all across America, but sadly today those words are still a mere hopeful expectation. As a minister it pains me to say that today, I’m not so sure we will overcome. And just for clarification that WE encompasses all of life regardless of anyone’s individual race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion or other self-identifying markers. We is just that, we; the human race, God’s beloved creation, the highest reasoning and functioning organism known to the universe.

In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul used the analogy of the body to describe the fact that we’re all dependent on each other. He writes “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body…”

In 1963 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his letter from a Birmingham Jail: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

In 1968 Fannie Lou Hamer said “And you can always hear this long sob story: "You know it takes time." For three hundred years, we've given them time. And I've been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change. We want a change in this society in America…”

And today, I’m writing my truth; I don’t know that we will overcome the way the world wants us to. Humanity has a long history of injustices and crimes against other people for various reasons across all parts of the world. We try to stamp out resistance for the sake of peace, but what we often times miss is that by doing so someone always loses out.

I think about animals who are raised in captivity. They learn to adjust and play the game while on display. Trainers come and go while the animals pace back and forth day in and day out, forced to perform tricks upon demand. No matter how long the animal has been contained, the fact remains that it is still a wild animal. You can only poke and prod at it for so long. It can only endure so much and inevitably, eventually it will respond with its natural instincts.

The recent killings of five Dallas police officers is tragic, but to acknowledge that tragedy one must also look at why it happened. The why doesn’t begin with the alleged shooter (who was also tragically gun downed), it doesn’t begin with the Black Lives Matter movement. No, instead it begins with the fact that black and brown people have been forced into captivity and expected to perform for the sake of this country’s entertainment and prosperity. The latest rounds of reactive violence, although sad are a cry birthed from the pain that our lives are nothing but collateral damage to a system and people who do not see us as equal or whole. With every march and protest we are also reminded of a way that our parents, and grandparents and their parents came that has been watered with tears. Sadly, we still come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered. Enough is enough.

You know, rarely does a free animal attack just for the sake of killing or for sport. It responds to its surroundings. It reacts to being provoked. How long do people expect us, us African-Americans, to just smile and wait for passive change?

The truth is, every revolution has resulted in the loss of life and bloodshed. Every gain for any oppressed group has been against the will of the oppressor. Revolution is not easy, nor is it quiet, and it damn sure isn’t peaceful. Justice must be demanded. Equality must be taken. So today, I echo the words of the forefathers of this country and say we hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL PEOPLE are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights and among them is the right to life.

We-the people of the United States, We-God’s beloved and originally called very good creation, We-who share commonalities in our DNA structure, We-who if nothing else are all people, must do justice, love mercy and learn to walk humbly with each other. Anything less will result in more death, more tears and a growing restlessness amongst a strong group of people. In some way, we shall overcome.

#AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile #BlackLivesMatter #iMatter

-A Sick & Tired Pastor T.

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