“Human beings must have hope. Without hope, there is no tomorrow, only a fear-ridden or boring present. Without hope, one lives in dread of what will come next, or is stifled with a meaningless life that is not going anywhere except to the grave.”
e just had a high holy day last Sunday – Pentecost. Usually these big Sunday festival days are the only ones that we Lutherans know about. However, we’re not so different from our Catholic siblings and our liturgical calendar also recognizes minor holy days – like the feast days of martyrs and saints. They usually fall on weekdays and for faithful people who rarely worship between Sundays, we easily miss them.
Last summer, during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, all the voting members of our church established a new day of commemoration. The new feast day happens for the first time this month – on June 17th as a commemoration of the Emanuel Nine.
On June 17, 2015, Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson were murdered by a self-professed white supremacist while they were gathered for Bible study and prayer at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (often referred to as Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina.
And five years later, we mark this martyrdom as our black, indigenous, & siblings of color still live in dread of what will come next, or are stifled with a meaningless life that is not going anywhere except to the grave. And this is exactly why we need this day of commemoration and repentance.
Those of us with the privilege of whiteness have yet to change our lives significantly enough to stop the murder of the people of color in our community. In our scripture we read over and over again that the process of transformation begins first with repentance – a complete 180 degree turn from the way things are now. So while we might desire for our communities to be transformed already, for us to love one another, live in peace, value diversity, etc., etc.,...none of that can happen until we all repent. It can’t happen until we all change our thinking and our behavior.
And that is hard to do.
I’m grateful that a portion of our congregation has begun to do that hard work together. I’m hopeful, that with the loving support of this faith community we can continue to do that hard work together which our siblings of color absolutely need us to do before they will feel welcome.
But I also know it won’t happen today. So for today, I’ll just ask you to practice one part, the confession. Print it out and say it before dinner with your family. Bookmark it on your phone and say it in front of the mirror. Use it as a guide to deep prayer or meditation. Bring it with you on your walks and hikes. Practice this repentance until you believe it. Other people’s lives depend on it.
Gracious God, we thank you for making one human family of all the peoples of the earth and for creating all the wonderful diversity of cultures. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship and show us your presence in those who differ most from us.
Worship Resources for Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015 "Confession, Repentance and Commitment to End Racism Sunday" © 2015 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.