(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 stickerI 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.