Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Birth!

Amidst the huge outbursts of emotions all along the spectrum after George Zimmerman's acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, many have longed for a distraction and have found it in the birth of the son of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the royal birth!  Such pomp and circumstance!  There were gun salutes, a royal crier and minute by minute news coverage for all the adoring fans.  Yes, the human tendency to disengage with reality and escape into fantasy stood unhindered this week.

Can you guess that I wasn't one of the adoring fans waiting with bated breath for the royal birth?  Sorry! I was just too busy mourning the gutting of The Voting Rights Act and a victory for Florida's fundamentally flawed and biased "Stand Your Ground" law which will only cause more unnecessary violence and gun proliferation and outrage.  "Oh come let us adore him!"  That's basically what the media was saying about William and Kate's baby boy, but there is another royal birth of far greater significance that I am waiting for and that is the birth of Christ in our hearts.

A dear friend of mine has a habit of saying "Merry Christmas!" on any given day.  It seems a bit strange, but the truth is that Jesus is born in our hearts every day whenever we allow him to be, whenever we make room for him.  Whenever we turn from violence and seek peace.  Whenever we seek reconciliation instead of revenge.  Wherever there is love.  Wherever there is compassion.  Wherever there is gentleness, kindness and mercy, Jesus is born in our hearts and is free to live out his resurrected life in us.  Now this is a royal birth to get excited about!  This is the royal birth the world is desperately in need of.  And when it happens it will not be televised.  There will be no fanfare, or gun salutes or royal criers with feathered hats, only a still small voice letting us know we're headed in the right direction.

So may all of the love, all of the compassion, all of the mercy, may all of the sheer goodness, humility and kindness of Jesus be born in our hearts on this day and everyday.  May we all learn to love one another as dearly and tenderly as Jesus loves us so that we may create a world free of hate, bitterness, poverty and war, a world full of the abundant life Jesus comes to bring us whenever we let him in.

Following the Way,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trayvon Martin and Metanoia

I am beyond words right now thinking about the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.  I am disgusted, enraged, heartbroken and afraid.  I've always wanted children, but as a black man things like this make me pause and think.  Do I want to bring children into a world like this?  A world where I cannot keep them safe?  A world that will look at their black skin and automatically brand them as menaces?  A world where a 17-year-old honor roll, college bound student walking down the street with a bag of skittles and some ice tea is gunned down and the shooter goes free?

Justice in this life is imperfect, but it's where we start.  Convicting George Zimmerman would have done nothing to bring Trayvon back, but it would have sent out a message to any armed-wanna be-cop out there.  And it could have in some small way started the process of "metanoia" or a conversion of the heart for George Zimmerman and our society.  This is what George Zimmerman needs and this is what our racist, patriarchal, capitalist society needs, a change of heart.  Yet as of today George Zimmerman has never apologized for killing Trayvon Martin.  Why should he?  The courts agree with him in his assertion that he has done nothing wrong.  And this is the most tragic part of the verdict: it gives the George Zimmermans of the world no reason to change and it gives those who agree with him no reason to change either.

The soul of our nation is sick with racism, selfishness, greed, apathy and so many other things.  Without metanoia, without a change of heart, tragedies like this will just keep happening.  And our justice system is not removed from that process of metanoia.  The Civil Rights Acts did not change the hearts and minds of Americans over night, but it did change many hearts and many minds over time.  It began the process of metanoia for people all across the country regarding racism.  George Zimmerman's conviction could have in some small way begun a similar process for a nation still struggling to recognize people of color as full human beings.

We are not to wait for God's justice when we get to heaven, we won't need it then.  God's justice starts right here and right now with our frail, limited justice.  This is where we start.  It starts with you and me holding people accountable for the evil they do so that metanoia can become a possibility for the individual and the larger society.

Trayvon, I don't care what anybody says, you did not deserve what happened to you!  May your senseless death help reveal to all of us all the evil lurking in our hearts and lead us to metanoia, lead us to a complete change of heart so that we can create a world where what happened to you will never happen to anyone else ever again. 

Following the Way,