We Are Weary

I find myself tired today. Tired of the madness, the terror, the violence, the greed, and the misuse of power against black and brown bodies, against the poor, against the vulnerable. I join in the lament, “How long, O Lord, how long?” [Psalm 13:1]

I’m tired of living in a world divided and polarized, fragmented and pillaged, ravaged by greed and hostile to human flourishing. I’m tired of the evils of white supremacy and racial violence that are embedded in the very fabric of our country. And if I am tired —as a white woman with privilege—I can’t imagine how weary our black and brown siblings are. There are no words. Only tears.

“Black People Are Tired” was anonymously authored and circulated through social media in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death. Yet black souls like Breonna Taylor keep being stolen from us. Red Letter Christians has created this tribute to bring light to these tragic injustices and honor the lives of those lost in a world still infected by white supremacy and violent racism. May they rest in power. May we fight for love and justice so that no one else has to see their loved ones become a hashtag.

Please take a few minutes to let the weight of these stories impact you.

Mourn we must. Grieve we must. As my friend Sunia Gibbs, a parish pastor in Portland, has articulated so profoundly, “Distance is a privilege we have to surrender.”

We must relinquish the comfort of our denial. We must listen to the stories and perspectives of those who are experiencing what we do not understand. And we must learn, think differently, and repent. I thought this video by actor Sterling K. Brown (This is Us) was moving as you could viscerally feel the weariness and anger of his lament. You can also feel it in a statement put out by our black Vineyard pastors.

I am listening intently to my fellow colleagues who are my teachers. Here is a post by Silas Sham who was a part of our community for a short time before being hired on at Bethany Northeast.

Dear Christians, I speak as a pastor and person of color: If our numerous cries of lament, injustice, and shock in the wake of Ahmaud Arbery don’t cause us to rework how we live our lives, we will fail to honor Ahmaud. If our posts don’t translate into unfettered, embodied denunciations of racism, white supremacy and our religion’s role in propagating such ideology (particularly from the pulpit) we can’t pretend to say that our posts this week have been prophetic. Instead, we must own and admit that our witness has been nothing less than pornographic. Tragedies like this are not isolated occurrences. From condemning micro-aggressions to confronting macro-aggressions, we have the responsibility and response-ability to participate in making God’s Kin_dom on Earth as it is in Heaven. Fellow Christians, by all means continue to post and share. But don’t let that be the only thing we do. #Irunwithahmaud #morethanaweek #pocreality #propheticnotpornographic Edit: Put another way – It’s like we’re all at youth camp and everyone’s just gone up for the altar call. Everyone is broken and humbled before God but that experience won’t change most of our actual life patterns because that is the deeper harder work. Commit to whole life transformation – not just drive-by reconciliation. – Silas Sham

As The Practicing Church, we are committed to the long road of repentance and whole life transformation. It is not enough to be outraged.

“You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it; Unless you see yourself as belonging to it and being responsible for changing it.”

Grace Lee Boggs

This is why I am so passionate that we as the church stop living above place but instead root in our neighborhoods to embody love. I am tired, but I would be completely lost and despairing if not for the hope of love here on the ground. Here in the neighborhood, we have the opportunity to become the beloved community that Dr. King and Saint John imagined.

This last week as I participated in a spatially distant happy hour, I reveled in our diversity: Latino, Mongolian, Korean, Japanese, Nigerian, English and Texan — Muslim, Christian, Agnostic — gay and straight, gray-hairs and babies, single and married, families with bundles of kids and those with the canine variety — construction workers, nurses, counselors and engineers. Where else on earth would we all be coming together to weave a fabric of care? Left to our own devices, we so often choose the comfort of homogeneity — people just like us.

​But this is our block, our neighborhood and we must take responsibility for it, for the land and for one another. Here in the neighborhood, we have the opportunity to practice skills like listening, empathy, compassion, generosity and peacemaking. We can create gardens, connection, and beauty that catalyze the gifts of the community. We have the context to engage the slow and long work of transformation that is so needed today.

So yes, we mourn and grieve. We are outraged. We are tired. We are beyond tired. In fact, in pandemic quarantine, we are almost too tired and overwhelmed to process all the injustice. We cannot keep up with the growing mountain of grief.

And yet there is something we all can do. It is simple yet difficult. It is small yet profound. It seems that Jesus was truly onto something.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Whether it is your neighbor seeking asylum or your neighbor practicing Ramadan. It may be your neighbor experiencing homelessness or your unemployed neighbor who cannot pay their rent. It may be your Asian American neighbor who is facing undeserved harassment and public bullying or your Black neighbor who puts their life in their hands every time they wear a mask.

It is here in the neighborhood that we can begin to stitch a new garment of love and community for all.

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. we should not long to return my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”

Sonya Renee Taylor
Republished with permission from The Practicing Church blog.
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