We cannot unsee what we have seen, what we have witnessed this week is disturbing and compassion is activated. I moved from a Dance Party Celebrating Pride on Wednesday, to standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matters, into lament on Thursday. My heart aches and breaks and I turn again to my well-worn bible to the words of a prophet, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream (Amos 5: 24)”. Also, to a mandate received from God through a prophet, “What does God require of you; do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)”
Lastly, to an image for times like these. “The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations. (Revelations 21:22)”
I invite you to join with me and pray these scripture verses at the top of every hour today and the coming days. In The Message translation of Amos, we hear God speaking these words:
“Do you not know what I want. I want justice-oceans of it. I want fairness-rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want.”
As you pray those words at the top to the hour, as you lament racism and continue to see what has been revealed and remember that Micah’s mandate requires action and lovingkindness, what is one concrete step you will offer as one more drop of water in the ocean of justice; the river of fairness, which is of course equity for all. Black Lives matter, we cannot unsee what we have seen. Indigenous Lives matter, we cannot unsee what we have seen. All lives matter. We cannot unsee what we have seen. God, what is the one hard thing you ask of me, of us?
The death of Chantel Moore affects all of us. Personally, Chantel is a family member of friends from Tal o qui aht, friends of the Road to Reconciliation; we are all in this together, Chantel is family.
I was able to talk with Norah Martin, Chantel’s aunt, to offer condolences, strength and help. AVUC and CCC from out Ministry of Reconciliation grant responded to the need for financial assistance for travel costs for Norah and seven family members to travel to New Brunswick. Our contribution of $1500.00 joins with many other generous donations giving support and strength when it is needed.
If you wish to give financial support, please be in contact with John or myself, or there is a GO-Fund Me Page.
This week I return again and again to the video, which I sent you earlier this week, “ The Flower.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0N5OEpxbFY) God, help me be part of the healing is a prayer is for times like these and it requires something of me.
Feel the tears that well up within you. Reach out. I’d love to connect with you in whatever way would be most helpful for you. There are lots of walking and talking time.
May you be well, be active for justice, be prayerful…Christ journey’s this way with us.
"I can't breathe." These are words that rumble in my heart, mind, and soul.
Pentecost is the time when we remember and retell the stories of God's spirit, which yearns to fill us to overflowing with inclusive love, which we witness in Jesus the Christ. Pentecost, the breath of God, in the beginning, breathed life into all of creation, continues to breathe life from all corners of the globe.
"I can't breathe."
I have had bronchitis and pneumonia, and so I know what it feels like to think that I can't breathe, but I could breathe. As a mom of a young child who frequently had bronchial asthma, I know the panic of a parent when their child is struggling for breath while medication begins to work. As I remember those moments, the words "I can't breathe" become visceral, and a divine voice says remember some people feel like that every day of their life. That's what's important to see, know and respond to. As Barack Obama says, “The waves of protest represent a genuine and legitimate frustration…The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation.”
In our faith tradition we remember that Jesus teaches us that love=justice. Racism is injustice. The change we long to see in the world arrives one conversation, one action, at a time.
There is always something we can do to sustain the momentum for real change.
Pause, breathe, give thanks for the gift of breath, now, remember times in your life when you spoke out for equity and just relationships. Maybe you challenged a racist joke, remember the courage that helped you speak. Maybe there was a moment when you realized what you thought was a harmless kids rhyme was teaching children racism. Remember the shift that happened in your thinking. Maybe you were involved with calling for institutional reforms, again connect with the passion. Remembering the courage, the shift, and the passion of past actions is energy for what is needed now. Racism is changed one conversation, one action, one commitment at a time. What is your concrete action? Whatever action you choose; it is enough.
This morning as I was writing content for a new AVUC brochure and website. I remembered that together as Church, a Community of Faith, we have not remained silent in the face of injustice, and we will continue to speak and breathe life where we are.
This morning I wrote:
"AVUC is a progressive and affirming community of faith within the United Church of Canada. We affirm that gender and sexuality are gifts of God, and welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We draw strength and hope from biblical stories of liberation; from the call to live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God; and from Jesus' witness to God's inclusive love.
We are Christ centred and Spirit-guided on a journey of co-creating with God.
We are leaning into paradigms, patterns, which we think are expressions of Christ teaching that Love=justice.
We are Public, Intentional and Explicit allies. Our practice of allying looks like this: as of June 2015 AVUC started flying the Pride Flag 365 days a year, Celebrate Pride Movie Series, Allyship Workshops, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Celebrate Pride Sunday, co-hosting The Art of Hosting and Decolonizing practices trainings and a Road to Reconciliation monthly circle.
We have been practicing being reconciling, and it's hard, uncomfortable, complicated, and sometimes rough waters and there are profound holy moments when we see the face of Jesus in each other, offering the best we can at this moment."
May our collective action fill you with hope. With God, with love, with justice, one action, one conversation, one prayer at a time, nothing is impossible, everything is possible.
The firey, feisty, Spirit of God breathes life into us. May that life-giving Spirit of life soothe your already COVID 19 weary bodies and move through you in the shape of courageous love in action.
Confusion and disorientation may describe your experience in the COVID-19 emergency and the murders in Nova Scotia. The RCMP media release will cause distress and many intense emotions and challenging reflections. As well, media releases about the tender, considerate, empathetic and caring responses of being demonstrated will cause a slight easing of the intensity. What is a courageous response? A courageous response is to grieve. To honour the suffering of those who have lost someone this week. To honour the grief that wells up in you. To process that grief in the ways that for you help the grief move through you. • Call a friend. • Write in your journal. • Walk, with appropriate social distancing, it out. • Talk to a counsellor, minister, or other professional. • Wear red today. • Sing. • Listen to jazz or other music that get deep into your soul • Punch a punching bag. Remember the teachings of our faith tradition “1 Corinthians 12:26 If one member suffers; all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it” and our practice of lamenting the loss. Pouring “it” out to God as the psalms teach-- God is tough enough to handle our anger, rage, tears, and … A courageous response is to connect with someone who is on your mind; trust your intuition—perhaps someone who has roots in Nova Scotia. Or think of the people you sat beside that last time you worshiped in the AVUC building sanctuary. Phone, email, text, or snail mail them. On Sunday, I will be reflecting on the tenacity of dandelions is needful when our worlds are turned upside down. A link to a resource on grief from the Alberni Clayoquot Health network is: https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief Lastly a note from my friend Renee Roederer who encourages me, -- I know a person who facilitated guided meditations over Zoom for free every day this week. She did this for loved ones and people new to her. Then she passed along the recordings. They were so lovely and helpful. -- I know a person who has been sewing masks up a storm. She realized she can make these quickly, and she’s passing them along to loved ones and people unknown to her. -- I know a person who offered to teach improv games over Zoom to a support group of people that typically meets over the phone. Many participants have never seen each other’s faces, and his offer allowed them to do this for the first time while playing together in fun and meaningful ways. -- I know a person who ran a virtual Boston Marathon in his Michigan hometown. He wanted to turn the term ‘social distancing’ on its head and encourage people to run or walk any distance on April 20 while giving to social causes. He raised approximately $6,000 to support people experiencing homelessness in Flint. I love when people give uniquely from themselves, using their best gifts and skills and turning them toward others. We can all do this