“On Birmingham Sunday the blood ran like wine and the choir kept singing of freedom”. Richard Farina Sung by Joan Baez
June 1, 2020
As a teenager, I spent much time gathered with others singing this song and others like them. It was the late sixties and a time of great unrest. We prayed for equality for all people and for the end of the war. We watched images on the nightly news of riots and murders and the world spinning out of control. Those images and this song came to mind this past week as I watched George Floyd, a black man, being murdered by the police, Minneapolis burning, and the world spinning out of control.
I spoke to Renee, the godmother of my daughters, a black UCC pastor, who has been a friend for the past twenty years and listened to her cries and her great lament. She said to me, “it is not enough for people of color to speak out and it is not enough, for white people not to be racist. It is time for all people with privilege to use their power”.
I thought about that statement and wondered, “What power do I have?” I am only one person with limited influence and no apparent ability to shape the world beyond my own actions, but my soul burned with anger and I knew I had to do something.
In my prayer time, I had to first confess. My prayers for justice have not been part of my daily practice. I have been reminded with each George Floyd, Ahmed Aubrey, or Breonna Taylor to pray and I have faithfully, until complacency lulls me back to sleep. For me, as a white woman, living in Northern Maine, it is easy to put these prayers on the back burner. It is not the day to day concern for me, as it is for my friend Renee or for other people of color. I may fear Covid 19 but as a person of privilege, I do not have the same chance of succumbing to the virus as my black brothers and sisters who face systemic poverty and ill health. Lord, forgive me!
Today as I pray for the end to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, I cannot be part of the choir singing of freedom. As a leader in the church, I am compelled to remind all of us that we must not sing of freedom in our church while we do nothing to bring it about. It is not enough, not to be a racist. It is the time for all of us to stand together and say no more. Justice must be served. We have all been made in the image of God and we should all be treated as such.
Today, I implore all of our Northern Maine churches to bring this concern to the forefront of our preaching, our teaching and our outreach. We cannot remain silent if we want to be part of God’s justice. Our silence is deadly. I thank you all for all that I know you will do to help bring justice to bear. In the name of the Christ,
*photo - freepik.com