A lamentation of sorts for Sunday July 14th, 2013 (the day after the Zimmerman verdict))

(My intern, and not myself is slated to preach this evening. But as the pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints, I wanted my voice to be in the room. I’m certain it will be a shaky voice.)

click here to listen along ——> 2013-07-14 NBW sermon on Trayvon Martin

I would like to take this opportunity to “stand my own ground”.

I would like to stand my ground as a voice for anti-racism and non-violence.

For gun control and a justice system that actually hands down justice.

I would like to take this opportunity to say something defiant and super clever and something that would be memorialized for the next 48 hours in Facebook memes.

There are a million reasons for me to want to stand my ground but every time today that I have tried, I am confronted in the following ways, by, of course, myself.

1. I want to be a voice for non-violence but the reality is that this morning on NPR when I head George Zimmerman’s brother say he rejects the idea that Trayvon Martin was unarmed because the teenager was actually armed with a sidewalk on which he broke George’s nose, well, when I heard that, my first reaction was not to reach through the radio and offer that man a sign of peace, my first reaction was to reach through the radio and offer that man a punch in the throat.

2.Yesterday I heard that a Federal Law Enforcement officer at my mom’s church has shown up the last 3 Sundays carrying a concealed weapon. Which is insane and something I would normally want to post a meme about on my Facebook wall for all the liberals like me to “like” except for the fact that that law enforcement officer a) is my brother and b) carried that weapon to protect his family ever since my mother’s life has been threatened by a crazy man who wants her dead. A man who was escorted out of church last week by police.  So when I heard that my brother was armed to protect my own mom I wasn’t alarmed like any good gun control  pastor would be…, I was relieved… and now what the hell do I post on Facebook? What do I do with that?

3. Despite my politics and liberalism when a group of young black men in my neighborhood walk by I brace myself in a different way than if they were white and I hate this but it’s like 44 years of having every message I hear in the media and culture around me say that I am superior – superior by accident of birth well, 44 years of that cannot be erased completely by my university education and progressive beliefs.  So if I said that there is not residual racism in me that I simply do not know how to escape I would be lying. Even if I do have an “eracism” bumper sticker

I want to stand my own ground but this morning all I could do was quite literally stand in my own kitchen and cry. Cry for all my own inconsistencies.  Cry for all the parents of kids with brown and black skin who feel like their children can now legally be target practice on the streets of suburbia. Cry for a nation divided – both sides of which hate the other.  Cry for all the ways I silently perpetuate the things I criticize. Cry for the death threats toward my family and the death threats toward the Zimmerman family.  Cry for Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton whose child was shot dead and were told yesterday that it was more his fault than the fault of the shooter.

His mother Sybrina, is a woman of faith and her first public statement was a prayer

“Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”

So tonight I want to use her prayer as our own.

Let us pray,

Lord who taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, in our darkest hour help us to not lean on self-righteousness but to lean only into the sweet arms of our loving savior. You are all we have. Help us to believe, even when it is hard, even when it seems like there is nothing but anger and despair, that somehow you are in control. Thank you for those who pray. When we cannot pray for our enemies may the prayers of others suffice. And help us to love. It doesn’t come as naturally as we’d like to believe. But help us to love wantonly, extravagantly, and fearlessly as you love us. And in times as dark as these help us to boldly speak the name of Jesus. The name above all names that demons fear and angels sing. It is in this name we pray, Amen.

 

About Nadia Bolz Weber

I am the founding Pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. We are an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination. Learn more at www.houseforall.org

  • Penny Visalli

    Amen. And amen again.

  • Kenny Pierce

    Beautifully-written. Amen indeed.

  • Rachel Wangen-Hoch

    I really needed this today. Thank you.

  • Lisa West

    Amen.

  • Linda Larsen

    Beautifully articulated, Pastor Weber. My son, Rev. Greg Larsen of Christ Congregational UCC in Ft. Morgan, posted your message, and I’m so grateful he did. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.

  • John McDonald

    George Zimmerman has brown skin. He is hispanic. The thought he should have allowed himself to be killed because his attacker had darker skin is purely racist. With the common liberal belief that guns kill people I am surprised you allowed one in your church. The belief that the person having the gun makes a difference is grounds to have the pastor lose her liberal status. I am sorry Zimmerman was not white because it would have been easier to hate him. I will prayer this pastor.

  • Hannah_Thomas

    What happened that night was tragic. No parent should lose a child, and no hispanic should be slandered because people want to find a reason to hate.

    I guess I come from a different direction. You see I was born in the South during the civil rights period, and my parents took the wrong side – according to their ‘white’ brethern. It’s also scary to know that people want you to have your just deserts for being a traitor to your race. I was child, and I was scared to death at times. They took the right stand, and I will believe that until the day I die.

    I don’t remember feeling superior to be honest. I don’t remember being told I was either. I knew what I was seeing was wrong, and it wasn’t hard as a child to see it was hate.

    I do believe both individuals made mistakes that night. I don’t think we have a winner nor a loser. Both sides have lost so much. I can’t imagine having to live with the fact I killed someone – self defense or otherwise. People spoke for his pain during trial over that, and I doubt it will go away.

    I doubt he feels satisfaction over it – a key difference from when I was child.

    Trayvon’s parents I pray now have an opportunity to mourn, and find closure. They deserve it.

    Sometimes today I almost feel like the hate I saw as a child has turned around in the other direction. I have friends of color, and I have spoken to them about it. That fear as a child is back again, and in some places you can see the ‘group think’ that was popular once upon a time. I can’t tell you how badly that tears my heart out. Now it can come from any direction.

    This case wasn’t about race, and both families are going to take sides because of pressure and fishbowl they have had to live with for almost 2 years. Who can blame them? I can’t. I’m heart broken for both to be honest. There hasn’t been time or space for them to come up for air yet.

    I realize just voicing my difference of opinion will open me up to being called a bigot. Oh well! Growing up we were called much worse for voicing our opinions, and costed us alot. I blame the media for making this ugly circumstance into something that gave them something to talk about. They have torn two families apart just so their talking heads could keep busy. Now the twitter feed if full of hate towards the jury, and George. Yes, of course you have the bigots on the other side as well.

    I pray we as a nation can find some middle ground, and the talk of peace can truly begin.

  • Patrick Downs

    re: “Yesterday I heard that a Federal Law Enforcement officer at my mom’s church has shown up the last 3 Sundays carrying a concealed weapon. Which is insane and something I would normally want to post a meme about on my Facebook wall for all the liberals like me to “like” except for the fact that that law enforcement officer a) is my brother and b) carried that weapon to protect his family” –> Why on earth would ANYONE be upset at a trained LEO carrying anywhere? There have been many attacks in and on churches and the flock, and there are many pastors who carry too, for that reason. At my old church, we had a security team comprised of members who were off-duty, volunteer cops. Armed, concealed. When churches are gun-free zones, like schools, you might as well advertise: “Madmen, come here and kill all you want. There’s no one to stop you.” >> “All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” #Foolish.

  • marty_jones

    Nadia-
    I share your feelings, positive and negative. Something like 16 more years of conditioning. I, too, have a LEO in the family, and he’d probably be packing if he ever went to church… That’s a negative opinion that should get negated by the next paragraph. 40 years following Jesus, and I still don’t walk the same line.
    I often feel like we are trapped in 1960; and “all the conservatives” want to go back there. I see hatred in my own congregation, even though they probably would say ‘we have a right to our opinions’. I believe that I gave up RIGHTS when I surrendered my life to Christ. I have a responsibility to become a more Christ-like person, even when I don’t want to.
    Thank you for your Voice.
    Blessings, Marty

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    In what land can an Obama-supporting, anti-police brutality hispanic who’s getting his skull smashed onto the pavement be transformed into a white supremacist one-man lynch mob? Liberal-land, that’s where.

    #2 paragraph in the post is redolent, as you surely know, of celebrities who from the safety of their swarms of bodyguards issue calls to ban guns for ordinary people.

  • Barry Hoerz

    Nadia, God has given you an exceptional gift of raw proclamation and I am so thankful that you use it and hone it and speak it – however shakily and tremulously it can be. As a fellow ELCA pastor in WI, I use your voice and your words from time to time and hope they wake up some sleeping souls in an all-to-contented congregation. May God continue to bless your voice and keep your family safe.

  • Sandra Orrick

    Mercy. Thank you for your voice. This cannot be the first time events have elicited a sense of hopelessness. I want to be defiant in my alleluias but today they seem hollow somehow.

  • Anita Simpson

    Your thoughts have touched me deeply; your honesty and insight are a wonderful example. It is saddening to look at some of the comments you have received and realize that you have been castigated for your willingness to tell your truth. I stand with you as a human being, wanting to be perfectly nonviolent, nonracist, beneficent and loving, but knowing there will always be hypocrisy in my heart as well, as a part of my humanity. God bless you.

  • Nancy Ruckert

    Thank you for your words. They are a comfort and honest reflection for today. I was fortunate enough to hear you at the NOLA 2009 Youth Gathering. Thank you for your witness in the name of Jesus.

  • John B. Carter

    I am delighted to read this, Nadia. Thanks for being bold in the Spirit!!!

  • Phil Harbridge

    WOW!!!
    power- full

  • newsdiscussions

    I am from Tampa, tonight on our local station they highlighted more than 4 black on black brutal crimes. One of them was a Black man who went into a Family Dollar was trying to hold up the store and the manager a black man was killed trying to protect his employees. People are wanting to overturn Stand your Ground laws until they actually are faced with the decision to have to stand their ground. Your mom should be proud that there is a law enforcement agent in her church that might end up protecting her when a loony shows up to kill the pastor and her fellow church members…yes it happens and has happened several times. The media took this case and convicted George Zimmerman long before it went to trial. The media Withheld pictures of Zimmerman;s bloody head, and the media portrayed Trayvon as a innocent child…he was 17 years old, and on his way to a life of Crime..having been caught with drugs, suspended from school several times for various reason. For George Zimmerman—he is a 1/2 white 1/2 Hispanic male who was made out to be a racist when the life he lived before this issue proved he was anything but a racist. Really the injustice to this is that a man was convicted long before he went to court and now that he went through the Judicial process, a Jury picked by both the prosecution—which do not get me started—and the defense. Listened to the evidence and found George Zimmerman not Guilty. I think this energy would be better spent on trying to solve the injustice and issues in the Black community rather than continuing to spend millions of dollars to crucify a man who was found not guilty.

    • K. C. Sunbeam

      Zimmerman was guilty in that he followed Martin after being told not to, which led to the incident.
      However, the black community must deal with their disproportionate crime rate; the black on white crime rate is actually the highest.
      I discuss religion, race, and other pertinent issues on my website http://shockedbytruth.jimdo.com
      Feedback would be highly appreciated

  • Trudy Cretsinger

    I hear those same voices you do, Nadia, when I encounter people on the streets. But I do my best to ignore them, lift my eyes to look at theirs, give them my usual smile, and (if I can be brave enough to fully ignore those voices) actually say “Hi!” or at least nod my head. I’m learning this week that this may matter more than I ever imagined. Maybe such small things can make a world of difference… or at least a different world?

  • Steve

    On 1) I can’t see why you would want to punch him. He was completely right. Martin had Zimmerman on the ground, being beaten ruthlessly. Concrete is a deadly weapon, just ask the mugger who was killed by a blind judoka. Perhaps you shouldn’t be buying all the rage and misinformation our corrupt media is selling.

  • Jim

    I think you are wonder full but you lose me in the religiosity of it all being in the name of Jesus. Isnt it all in the name of Ggod, more than it is Jesus?

    • Aine O’Brocken

      Jesus IS God. That is why we speak of “God the ‘father’, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,” is it not?

  • steve finnell

    DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS?

    Are all babies born into this world as dirty little sinners?

    BABIES ARE NOT GUILTY OF ADAM’S SIN

    ORIGINAL SIN: Accord to the proponents of original sin, men are born with hereditary depravity and corruption of nature and liable to God’s wrath. They think all men are inclined to do evil, and that continually. They believe every person born into this world deserves God’s wrath and damnation due to the sin of Adam. They believe all men are guilty of sin at the moment of birth. They believe all babies are dirty little sinners.

    Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

    Was Jesus saying the kingdom of God belongs to DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS, like these children?

    Mark 10:15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

    Was Jesus saying in order to enter the kingdom of God you have to be DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS, like children?

    If all babies are born DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS; that would have made Jesus a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER.

    Hebrews 2:14-17 Therefore, since children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil………17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make the propitiation for the sins of the people.

    Jesus was a descendant of Adam. He was made like His brethren in all things. According the original sin advocates that would make Jesus born as a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER. JESUS WAS NOT GUILTY OF ADAM’S SIN NOR ARE ANY BABIES GUILTY OF ADAM’S SIN.

    1 John 3:5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

    Jesus was not born a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER.

    Psalms 139:13-14 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.

    Did David believe God made him, wonderfully made, because God made him totally depraved and a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER?

    Ezekiel 18:20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

    Men will not be punished for their fathers’ sins nor will they be punished spiritually for Adam’s sin. Men do not inherit sin. Men are not born as DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS; they become sinners by choice.

    Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

    Was Jesus saying the kingdom of heaven will be filled with unforgiven DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS? No, He was saying the kingdom belongs innocents like these children.

    Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.

    How could Job have been blameless and upright and be born as a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER? Job was not totally depraved, and inclined to do evil continually.

    2 Kings 2:1 And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven….

    Did the Lord take Elijah to heaven because he was born a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER and deserved His wrath and damnation, because of Adam’s sin? Elijah was not totally depraved.

    Genesis 6:8-9 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

    Noah was a righteous man. How is it possible for Noah to be born a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER; only inclined to do evil, be guilty of hereditary depravity, and find favor in the eyes of the Lord? Noah was saved because he trusted God and was obedient. Noah was not going to be sent to hell because of Adam’s sin. Men will die spiritually because of their own sins; not Adam’s.

    Acts 10:1-2 Now there was man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually.

    Cornelius was neither Jew nor a Christian, but he feared God and gave alms to the poor. How would it be possible for Cornelius to act in this manner if he was born a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER; inclined only to do evil, and was totally depraved? Cornelius was not guilty of Adam’s sin nor was he guilty any other man’s sin.

    Luke 8:15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.

    Jesus said some men have a good and honest heart. How can a man who was born as a DIRTY LITTLE SINNER and are totally depraved, and only incline do to do evil, have a good an honest heart?

    MEN ARE GUILTY OF THE SINS THEY COMMIT; NOT THE ONE ADAM COMMITTED.

    1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

    Babies no not practice lawlessness in the womb.

    James 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

    Babies are not tempted and enticed by lust in the womb. Adam and Eve sinned when they were enticed by their own lust. Men today sin because the are enticed by their own lust. Men will be held accountable for their own sins, not Adam’s.

    MEN WILL DIE PHYSICALLY BECAUSE OF ADAM’S SIN.

    MEN WILL DIE SPIRITUALLY BECAUSE OF THE UNFORGIVEN SINS THEY THEMSELVES COMMIT.

    BABIES ARE BORN INNOCENT OF SIN.

    BABIES ARE NOT DIRTY LITTLE SINNERS!

    (All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICA STANDARD BIBLE)

    Posted by Steve Finnell at 12:13 PM

    You are invited to follow my Christian blog at: steve-finnell.blogspot.com or you may google search steve finnell a christian view.

    • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

      Jesus said “let the little ones come to me”, and “such is the Kingdom of God” because children are capable of a great deal of trust. Not because they are NOT sinners. They are sinners. Look at two babies fighting over the same bottle, or toy. Come on. Get real.

  • Bryan

    Nadia, I’m a little confused on this post. At one point, you state that you are an advocate for “non-violence” and in another you state that you wanted to “offer that man a punch in the throat”. This is hardly worthy of the non-violent approach MLK would have taken. To add to this, I believe it was his own niece who stated that this case was hardly worthy to labeled as ‘racist’.

    I have attended a conservative college and a liberal seminary and can see so easily the radical polarization that occurs when events like this take place. The day this event happened, many at the seminary (which I love dearly) had already passed a verdict of ‘guilty’ when none of the facts were in and before the trial even started. I am sure conservatives on the side of gun ownership quickly leaped into position as well. This dichotomy does not serve the church well.

    I am all for equal rights of all races but the gross negligence of the Christian community on either side does not demonstrate theological justice, it only demonstrates deeply entrenched perspectives that do not even need to have evidence of any kind in order to arrive at a proper and fair conclusion.

    In the end, it is tragic that someone lost their life and both parties could have used better discretionary judgment. Perhaps if Zimmerman had just observed Martin from a distance while waiting for police, this might be a different story. And if Martin had not had drugs in his system, perhaps his decision-making could have been better. And if both parties would have exercised better self-restraint through a non-violent approach, we might have a different story as well.

  • Aine O’Brocken

    Fortunately, unfortunately or otherwise, I find that pretty much my only contact with the people of Jesus on earth…is one Nadia Bolz Weber. Heavy burden for you, knowing that there are probbly many others like me? Possibly. Great blessing to those of us who live in places where we can find no accepting body with and in which to worship? Definitely. And thanks to you and to God Herself.

  • GunRights4US

    Poor George Zimmerman. Condemned forever for trying to oversee the safety and security of his neighborhood, and for the increasingly unforgivable crime of defending himself. All you Progs out there expect a person to just roll over and die when confronted by someone with black skin. Nadia I too cry for a divided nation. And I shed tears over the thought of what the future holds for my precious granddaughters. But I shed no tears for Travon Martin. He bounced down to the corner store for the makings of his next batch of lean, and thought he’d have a little fun with the neighborhood watch along the way. By the way, I heard you on NPR today saying something about God being referred to in the masculine tense. Now I don’t benefit from your sort of high end theology degree, so you correct if I’m wrong here: was not God always referred to in the original Hebrew and Greek texts in the masculine tense?