Hands up

Suspicious Activity?

So Far to Go

 Just this past Sunday July 26 2015, we at St. Mary’s had a baptism. I felt so honored to have this opportunity and thinking of how we as a church family have an obligation to raise up this beautiful baby boy in God’s family of faith. Later that evening I opened my email and found this letter written by a dear friend, of her experience and pain just the day before. Over and over again the final question of our Baptismal Covenant that we recited earlier that day; “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”, continued to ring loudly in my head. Our children’s lives matter and we have so far to go. Until we get there we must speak up and speak out so we can always confidently answer I will with God’s help. BCP pp 304-305 (ECUSA) No child should have this in their future to look forward to. The last time I checked, riding a bicycle while black is not a crime anywhere in this country! With permission I share this letter with you. After reading, it begs the question (among others): “Who’s guilty of suspicious activity?”

July 25, 2015

(Dear ARC Friend – This explains one of the reasons that our work is so very important to me. This is not 1960…we have power to make a change…our children must know that we fight for all of them.)

My fifteen year old African American sons were riding their bicycles with a friend in the Greens of Waynesboro Friday afternoon. The boys were videotaped and followed through your neighborhood for approximately ten minutes by a white woman with short dark brown/black hair who was driving a white SUV.

My sons are boy scouts who attend the Lawrenceville School and Friend’s Central. They have friends who live in the Greens of Waynesboro. They are actively involved in our church, and unlike many children their age, they opted to go swimming at a friend’s house and ride bikes (rather than play video games) that day.

As they were leaving your neighborhood two police cars stopped them because “suspicious” activity had been reported. Their information was taken and a police incident report was filed. When I heard about this I went to the police station and was told that there have been some burglaries in the area. The complainant was worried because she was going to be leaving town and the boys had on back packs (which contained their wet swim suits and towels).

But we all know that the real reason the call was made to the police was because they are black. I understand that there have been several recent burglaries in your community and everyone is on a heightened sense of alert because of that. However, I am grateful that Homa has agreed to share this letter with your community because I want you to understand the kind of heightened alert I am on every day and every time my sons leave the safety of their home.

To the woman who was following and videotaping my sons, you frightened my children. Not only did you scare them at the time, but you have permanently changed their sense of security in this world. Your racial profiling has damaged their spirits forever.

They have lived in this community their whole lives. We live in Berwyn Estates.  Please explain to me why my sons were so frightening and suspicious? Do you fear every child riding a bicycle in your community? Are backpacks the Berwyn equivalent of a hoodie? Please understand where my heightened alert comes from. Whatever you think of the Trayvon Martin verdict several things are clear. The young black man (who is now dead) was perceived as one who was “suspicious and did not belong in that community”. These are the words that you told to the police about my boys.

To the parents in the Greens at Waynesboro, how would you feel knowing that a stranger followed your children, terrified them and now has a video tape of them. How would you feel knowing that there is now a police incident report with your children’s names, address and birthdays permanently a part of an official record?  How would you feel if your children tell you now that they no longer feel comfortable going to their friends’ homes, or riding their bicycles? How would you feel knowing that the prejudice of one person has permanently adversely affected the way the child you love sees himself and the world?

My request to you all is that you try to see human beings NOT stereotypes.

 

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our prayer

 

 

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Whirlwinds

they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind…  I knew the storm was coming but decided to do one more errand. By the time I’d gotten to the parking space in front of the store, the storm was directly over my head. The winds and rain were so fierce I couldn’t get out of my car. I even had to maneuver my way around a few shopping carts to get out of the lot. It took nearly two hours to get home because although the storm had passed over, the path of its destruction caused some of the largest trees to be uprooted and fallen across the roads that led me home. Driving home was like being in a maze as I encountered walls of trees at every turn. Frustrating as it was, my consolation was in the fact that having lived in the area for so long, I was familiar with the back roads. Some days are very much like this, finding our selves caught behind the destruction of a whirlwind that keeps us from accomplishing our goals. When we engage the adversity, whirlwinds seem to last forever! Our consolation is in our relationship with a God who knows all the back roads, gives us direction and leads us safely home.

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Leftovers

…they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces…  When ever my mother-in-law had an event at her home she always had far more food than any number of invited guests could have eaten. Although I can’t be certain as to whether there was a method to her madness, from my first experience it was pretty clear that invited family and friends weren’t the only ones being fed. Living in the city, anyone who knew her could have stopped pass the house and left with a plate of food; sometimes two or more. Still, at the end of the day, there was always something left over. So too at the end of the day, the Holy Sprit is never exhausted. Its everlasting presence is an open invitation to those desiring to be fed. Thank you Lord, for even fragments of the Holy is more than enough to satisfy a hungry heart for God.

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God’s Space

Awesome things will you show us … O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. I recently had the honor of baptizing a child. Leading up to the event and afterwards, all I thought about was the hope we have in our children. We hope that all of the care, protection and knowledge we try to impart on their lives will serve them well and lead them straight to God, even though we know from experience that the path is not always straight. Which is why I believe faith communities are important, that they strive to be vehicles that help to encourage and build up our faith and show God’s awesome love beyond the walls and the vastness of the earth and seas. Gracious God may we always stand ready to receive one whose path crosses into your spaces.

 

Centering Prayer

Saturday’s Meditation Psalm 34:15, 18-20

Blessed Assurance

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry.

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord rescues them from them all.

He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

Enemies Within

Rebuilding

Burnt-offering and sin-offering you have not required; and so I said behold I come.  There is no debt to be paid, no period of pain to be suffered nor any expectation of beating ourselves up with the “what if’s”. Examine the damages only for the purpose of rebuilding. I don’t remember the day I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to change what has already happened. However, I do remember how I felt. It felt like putting down heavy bags I’d been carrying or better yet, taking off a pair of shoes that were hurting my feet. Wow! It was that easy? Perhaps not always, but I did finally understand that yesterday is done, tomorrow hasn’t come and it’s’ what we do today that  really matters.

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Innocence

For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.  
As I watched camp children playing I thought to myself about the freedom of innocence and how much we owe it to ourselves and the world to make sure that they know that they too belong to God and how much the universe delights in them. I pray their time to face some of the harshest of realities doesn’t come too soon. But when they do they have some place to go and prayerfully, this time with them will have made the difference.

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Empowered

Weeping endures the night, and prayer sustains the day. Daily by faith we have the capacity to empower ourselves and one another. By faith we are catalyst for change. By faith we are strengthened one moment at a time. Thank you God for all the moments and the cries for strength in between.

Judith cried out… ‘For your strength does not depend on numbers, nor your might on the powerful. But you are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, saviour of those without hope. 

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Shine

“Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel…?”  Sometimes the light that emanates from within us is hindered by the shadows, secrets and side views. Much like the sun which rises daily is sometimes covered by the clouds it doesn’t mean that it’s not shining. Regardless of what others see, or what we cannot see, our hope is in that light. Every day we rise with God’s word, we are God’s sun. Shine On!

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How Deeply

“…you shall do to him as it seems good to you.'”  David chooses the high road. It’s not always easy but we learn that wickedness only begets more wickedness. How deeply we need you O Lord. How deeply we need your Word that it may take root in our lives and be nourished by the continual wisdom we gain when first we consider your sacrifice and love. You give us every opportunity to show growth even as temptation, frustration and pain freely abound. We stand firm in your calling and our desire to be called. How grateful we are that your Word is sown deeply within us, that we may always be fertile ground.