"Turn your back on sin. Do something good. Embrace peace-don't let it get away!" (The Message)
At the beginning of Lent, I lamented over the sinfulness of racism that had wounded me so many years ago. Now, at the end of Lent and during the joyous season of Eastertide, I find myself in an equally mournful frame of mind.
The past several weeks, the news has been filled with the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Our hearts were in our throats as we listened to the story of his killing at the hands of George Zimmerman. We understood that Trayvon could have been our son or our brother, our neighbor or our church member. We understood because we, too, have felt the cold stares of merchants who follow us while we are in their stores. We understood because we, too, have been denied service while others of a fairer hue have not. We understood because our brothers have been stopped by the police while wearing three-piece suits. We understood, and we cried with Trayvon's parents. Sin. Evil.
Yet we cried more when we realized how few believers of other races stood with us while we donned our hoodies. Sin. Evil.
In 1903, W.E.B. DuBois wrote that the problem of the 20th century was the problem of the "color line." In 1954, Howard Thurman opined that 99 percent of "Negroes. . . are in segregated congregations." (The Creative Encounter) I wonder what DuBois and Thurman would say, all these decades later, about the unexamined aparteid that still exists among many believers. Sin. Evil.
We cannot calmly accept the sin that invades and infects our churches. What does the Psalmist tell us? We must turn away from evils and sins such as racism. We are called to run after the peace that only comes from God. His peace will bring His justice. His justice will come with His Kingdom, and His Kingdom will come. Thurman puts it this way: "It is my belief that in the Presence of God there is neither male nor female, white nor black, Gentile nor Jew. .. but a human spirit stripped to the literal substance of itself before God... wherever man has this sense of the Eternal in his spirit, he hunts for it...in all levels of his function. This kind of universe that sustains that kind of adventure...will someday be the common experience of all the children of men everywhere."
It is my prayer, this Eastertide, that we will all aggressively and actively seek HIs peace, His Presence, His goodness and not let them "get away." It is my prayer, this Eastertide, that we will find that more unites us than separates us.
Happy Easter. Rest, Trayvon. For you--our son, our brother--we will pursue peace.