Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter Response
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)
Lord God, Divine Creator of all that is and was and will be, we turn to you now, knees buckled in sorrow, fists tightening in anger, hearts breaking with every Mama ever called out to with her dying child’s last breath. We are begging for the help of the Holy Spirit. Now more than ever do we need that Spirit which we are currently celebrating; that Spirit which descended upon the Twelve in a fiery storm; that Spirit that corrected their thinking and gave them the ability to share with all people across the known and unknown world. We pray that the very same Spirit descend upon us to open our hearts and minds, to give us the courage to stand and act and shout and whisper and cry and donate and learn and unlearn. We call out to that Holy Spirit, ever-present in all beings, to shake us from our broken worldview and imbue in us the same love and courage that you gave to the Twelve. Amen.
Trayvon Martin: needlessly gunned down before the prime of his life even began, and we prayed.
Sandra Bland: targeted, mistreated, and killed by a militarized police force, and we prayed.
The Charlotte Nine: murdered in cold, hate-filled blood while they studied to Word of God together, and we prayed.
Breonna Taylor: shot dead in her home while police broke their way in as she slept, and we prayed.
George Floyd: spent nine minutes begging for his life and calling out for his Mama when he knew he would soon be returning to his Maker, and we prayed.
We find strength and community and guidance in prayer. It is a powerful tool to help us make powerful action. It has become a form of weakness, though. When all we do is pray for a better world during tragedy without taking action, we are failing our brothers and sisters of color; we are failing our queer brothers and sisters; we are failing ourselves; we are failing God. Each of us knows that searing look our parents have for us when our actions prove to be disappointing. The Divine is looking at us with that face at this very moment.
So, what do we do?
The Congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Hudson Falls, New York, is a place of warmth, love, and abundant welcome. Even still, we have fallen short in confronting race issues in our community, our nation, our world. We have remained silent, or at the very least quiet, at times of injustice. We have played it safe, hoping not to offend anyone, while ignoring the plight of millions. While ignoring the plight of neighbors. This became abundantly clear when at a recent Black Lives Matter march, our Pastor was one of only a few clergy present – our congregants among only a few official faith-based groups marching.
We cannot continue this path. We cannot continue to send only our hopes and prayers into the universe. It is just not enough. Our God is one of justice and love. Our great teacher, Christ Jesus, prayed often for guidance, and then he acted. The Christian Bible is not a book of stories about people praying and things getting better on their own, but rather it is a bold and dangerous book about people gaining fortitude from prayer and then forcing the world to be better, to do better. So, that is what we will do.
As a congregation, we are committing ourselves to standing with our black, brown, queer, other siblings. We are committed to the work of creating a world where no person is an “other.” We are committing to using our privilege, our voices, our votes, our hearts and feet and hands, to demand that brutality, subjugation, and racism are destroyed for good. We are committing to learning how to unlearn what has been taught to us as truth about race in America. We are committing to learning how to listen to our black brothers and sisters. We are committing to reading, talking, and being present with every person who faces injustice at the hands of a deeply flawed system of racist policy. We will learn how to be anti-racists. Our hearts, minds, and doors are open to our community of color. We will lift up their stories. We will become a beacon in our rural upstate New York home of peace and justice and the activism that made the mainstream progressive faiths what they are. We will encourage the challenging conversations about race that are necessary to break down the well-seeded ideas that so many of us do not even realize we live with.
In the book Radical Dharma, co-authored by Reverend angel Kyodo williams, Sensei, and Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, PhD, williams writes,
No one entity has the answer, but rather it is the willingness to offer our best, claim responsibility for our worst, and fold it all into the continuous moment-to-moment practice of simply being present to what is that promises to deliver our future.
We have faltered. We will falter again. However, from this point forward we are committed to learning from those moments, owning the pain they cause, and seeking a better way forward. We are committed to being present. We are committed to working for a future for all. This is the only way that we truly live Christ-like lives.
The Session of First Presbyterian Church of Hudson Falls