The Rev. Rodney J. Lynch T’14

A lament by the pastor and director, Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue

My dear sisters and brothers, I’m trying to figure out the sufficient and significant words that speak to the unrest, once again, in this country. My heart is vexed because in America, it seems like we put more emphasis on political parties, people’s property and less on particular people’s bodies. The Rev. Dr. William Barber II T’03 describes it in these words, “American’s have become too comfortable with the deaths of other people’s bodies.” I find myself in the same space today as the Psalmist 13:1-4;

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me (us) forever?
How long will you hide your face from me (us)?
How long must I (we) bear pain in my (our) soul/s,
and have sorrow in my (our) heart/s all day long?
How long shall my (our) enemy/ies be exalted over me (us)?

Consider and answer me (us), O Lord my (our) God!
Give light to my (our) eyes, or I (we) will sleep the sleep of death,
and my (our) enemy/ies will say, “I (we) have prevailed”;
my (our) foes will rejoice because I (we) am (are) shaken.

The difference between the Psalmist and me is context, and I have taken this singular lament and made it communal.

God, how long and how many more black bodies must be sacrificed to redeem the soul of America; to make her live up to who she says she is, a place where all of God’s images/children will have the right to “Life Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness? How long Lord, will my Christian brothers and sisters betray us with their silence? “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. How long, Lord? How long?!

During the Civil Rights Movement, led by the philosophy of Nonviolent Direct Action, Black mothers, fathers, and children were attacked by the American government with dogs, fire hoses and batons. Since then, we’ve been singing “We Shall Overcome, Someday.” I ask today, the same question Otis Moss III, Pastor of Trinity UCC in Chicago, asked recently, “When is someday?” Seemingly, the words to the psalm, “I Love the Lord” directly correlates to the desperate call of the day of deliverance.

“I love the Lord
He heard my cry.
And pitied every groan.
Long as I, I live
And troubles rise,
I hasten to his throne.”

I also love the Lord, because Yehovah Elohiym (God) decided to form (hu)man from the dust of the ground, but didn’t stop there; then God breathed the neshamah—breath of life and (hu)man became a living soul/being. It is the neshamah—breath; God has freely given everyone of us alive today, that intrinsically connects us. Therefore, when one of us dies, a piece of all of us die. We have to understand the inter-relatedness of all humanity. “We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world,” said Desmond Tutu. “When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”

In closing, the situation we find ourselves in, therefore, invites us to re-imagine how this nation could be, only if we seriously recognize that “Black Lives Matter,” (not because all lives don’t matter—but that we regard ALL human life as sacred). We are all created in the perfect tselem elohyim, imago dei, the image of God.    

A closing prayer: Dearest Jesus, come and sit with us today. Show us the lies that are still embedded in the soul of America’s consciousness. Unmask the untruths we have made our best friends. For they seek our destruction. And we are being destroyed, Lord. Reveal the ways the lies have distorted and destroyed our relationships. They break your shalom … daily. Jesus, give us courage to embrace the truth about ourselves and you and our world. Truth: We are all made in your image. Truth: You are God; we are not. You are God; money is not. Said Martin Luther King, Jr., “You are God; jails, bombs and bullets are not.”

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