I wanted to watch something easy tonight. Something that would make me feel good. Make me forget the utter chaos going on in our country right now. To be honest, I wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice or 2012 (2 of my top 10 #1 faves—don’t judge!) and just forget it all and be lulled into a make-believe coma.
I tried. I started to watch both of them.But I kept flipping through the channels, the streaming services, the on-demand.
I hit my list and saw The Hate U Give which I’d recorded and thought to myself–it’s time to watch this.
And then stopped.
You see, I just wanted an easy evening. It’s been an incredibly full week capped off by a deeply emotional day. I love church–now more than ever–and also I am discovering how holding the joys and burdens of a congregation and the world has added a sense of purpose to my life, but also, it seems, a heaviness to my spirit that I have not really experienced before.
I choked up during sections of my pastoral prayer today–when praying about the conditions of these detention prisons where children are being held … and the fear of deportation so many people are living with. I am my mother’s son…and my voice quivers with lament.
You see, tonight i I just wanted to watch “Pride and Prejudice” and forget all that. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t look away. I’ve spent too much of my life looking away and although I am trying to make up for that, I realize this is the path before me.
Two weeks from tonight, I will have experienced the affirmation provided through the Christian tradition of ordination. We will sing hymns, we will hear the words of prophets, and I will be held accountable to vows that I will not look away from injustice any more, no matter the heaviness, no matter the excruciating sadness, no matter the fatigue. My prayers are my laments. My actions are my response.
Because people are dying from toxic religion–it is happening in neighborhoods over and over; it is happening at our borders; it has infected halls of power; it’s anesthetized the church.
So I pressed play and watched this piece of art rooted in the realities Black Americans live every day of their lives. I cried and again I repented of my ignorance, my decades of complacency, and my ability to turn away from their realities as easy as changing the channel.
T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. is a reality I will never know, unless I continue to educate myself to the realities of others, continue to show up alongside them, continue to leverage what privilege I have toward saying, to quote our preacher today, THIS [false doctrine / perversion of the Gospel] IS.NOT.GOD.
Yes, self-care–I hear you my gentle siblings. Hold me to that.
And hold me to these vows as well:
May I never again be comfortable in the garments of complacence.
May I never look away at what is happening in the world around me.
May injustice always break my heart wide-open and inspire me to do more.
Until all of us are free.
Pastoral Prayer—June 23, 2019