Good morning, church!
Attached are a few more pictures from Sunday in the park. This event was a tiny drop in an ocean of protest pent up over many decades (what we remember) and centuries (what we know from history books) of mistreatment of black people. The event was, however, hugely important for our town. Dan Jacques (picture 4), the only African-American speaker, expressed an excitement over the crowds gathered, but he also said – I am paraphrasing him here: “I am skeptical. I have never seen this before. (Where have you been?) And I don’t know how long this sense of solidarity will last…” It was refreshing to see that so many people, including local officials and police officers, stood by and listened. I truly believe that our founders had this type of democracy in mind when they framed the constitution. And as I mentioned in my speech, even though the occasion for this show of solidarity was a very sad one – with the potential of deepening the already existing divisions in our country, – it could just as well be an opportunity to bring people together behind common human rights and values that we all share as Americans, at least in theory. It was a unifying, hopeful event. For that, I am very grateful.
As a pastor I am always reminded that our Holy Scriptures were written mostly by and for oppressed people, and they bring us the point of view of people who are not “in charge” and not “on top.” We sometimes conveniently neglect to see that. The Beatitudes can sound very smooth and serene and make for a nice reading in a nice ceremony, until we remind ourselves that the people Jesus addressed were under occupation and suppression. When he says, “Blessed are the meek,” that must have been a huge challenge for people angry over the Roman occupation. When he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,“ it was not what many people wanted to hear. There was a movement to arm people and overtake the occupiers. It ended in huge bloodshed around the year 70 A.D. in Palestine. And guess who was killed? It is absolutely no coincidence that the most influential advocates for change through non-violent means all came from minority groups: Gandhi, MLK, Nelson Mandela. They are all true heroes of the 20th century. Here is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that tells you a lot about the spiritual challenges these men (and their female counterparts) faced – and it would seem – mastered: “I have learned to use my anger for good. . . . Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.” So, anger is not bad, but the spiritual challenge is how to use it for good, how to channel it toward constructive action.
Please do not forget that we are resuming our weekly food drive tomorrow! Every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. you can bring food donations for Manna on Main Street. It usually goes directly on Lisa’s truck or the truck of another volunteer. There are always signs that you can’t miss.
Mrs. B’s Children’s Hour will take place every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., starting tomorrow, June 10. We encourage our families with young children to take advantage of this interactive program and to tell your neighbors with children about it.
This week, we are preparing for a big celebration of our graduates and the involvement of our youth ministry in the service recording. I also would like to mention that Sunday (June 14) will be Lilia M. 13th birthday. I have asked you to pray for Lilia before.
As always, be blessed and be safe! Pastor Andreas Wagner