Sanctuary

Emanuel

God With Us

One event changes a whole word

In a place named for the incarnation, of the coming of a savior, we now also have to think of it as a place in which the dirtiest part of humanity was made manifest

Again.

In Charleston as the state flies the flag of those who fought to keep black people as property, in a church that had been burned because its members dared to dream of freedom,

in a church to which Coretta Scott King led a march in support of striking hospital workers,

in a church where people have gathered for almost 200 years to celebrate Emanuel, God With Us

The unthinkable happened.

Or maybe it would be unthinkable if we didn’t keep watching it happen week after week in places like Baltimore, Ferguson, McKinney, New York

Maybe it would be unthinkable if the nine names that we now remember

Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Depayne Middleton Doctor, Myra Thompson, Susie Jackson, Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lance

weren’t nine more names added to the list of those who have been killed this year

We see people in the streets howling for justice, fighting against a tide that seems overwhelming

And yet they still move in a way we can’t deny as if to say that they won’t be beaten even though it keeps looking like the game is rigged against them

When will we stop just saying that this is unthinkable and fight against the reality that we see in our nation that says racism is alive and it’s more than just 21-year-old shooters pulling triggers in sacred spaces.

When we call our places of worship sanctuaries, I think we ought to mean it.

I think we should realize that the church is called to stand with those people in the streets, to harbor those that would do justice and seek mercy as we all march humbly with our God towards the kingdom.

Where are you, Church?

Did you think the sanctuary was just for you?

When we claim God With Us we claim God With ALL of us

May we never forget that God With Us came to bring release to captives, to let those oppressed go free

And so when we go into the world

And we’d better go because while we need that sanctuary to prepare us, to fill us, to remind us why we live the lives we claim, we should realize that the sanctuary wasn’t meant to be a panic room.

It wasn’t a place designed for us to lock ourselves away in when things got hard but rather a place from which to be sent out

We go ready to look into the eyes of all we encounter and see that divine spark staring back at us. We go ready to bend that long arc of the world towards justice, even if we have to stretch more than we’re ready to in order to reach it.

Emanuel

God With Us

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