Day 2: Perseverance
Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.” … “I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the Israelites, ‘I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery…”
- Exodus 5: 22 – 6: 1, 6: 5 – 6
…And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was around him… After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
- John 13: 2b – 5, 12 – 14
“When I marched in Selma… my feet were praying.”
- Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
(Jewish Scholar who marched alongside Dr. King in Selma)
We return to the road today and set our feet on sacred ground. Like Moses who does not achieve quick success in his journey toward liberation, we remember the hard and long fought battles for emancipation, voting rights, integration, and equality… Why did you ever send me? They are sure to have wondered. And yet we know that God did indeed send them, as God is indeed sending us. Despite perceived setbacks and challenges, God’s call of liberation perseveres.
On this second day, the commitment required of those who have gone before us becomes painfully real. Today we encounter the perseverance of racial hate that isolated white bodies and subjugated black bodies. And yet, we also encounter the perseverance of God’s liberating work in the world. The ground we walk today, in many ways, has been the clashing point of the perseverance of evil and the perseverance of love/liberation in our world.
In these cosmic and yet very human confrontations of our past (Tuskegee, Selma, Birmingham, etc.) we have witnessed society sustain its norms. In other words, those whom society was set up to benefit maintain power and are willing to do whatever it takes to uphold that power. In the Civil Rights Movement, that looked like white folks becoming more and more insulated from the daily subjugation of people of color. We have witnessed a symptom of the same problem erupt in our city this year as people of color took to the streets after the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. White insulation enabled the shock and surprise at the pain on display in the streets of uptown. Black subjugation needed no explanation for the demonstrators; in fact, many wondered how it had been suppressed for so long. And as our culture maintained (and maintains) a certain social order, our scripture and the call for something counter-cultural perseveres in the lives and the embodied prayers of the faithful.
Our journey today transcends time as we literally walk in the steps of those who marched before. It also fully engages our bodies as we give life, breath, and movement to both our pain and our prayers. We stand in tent cities where the displaced have lived. We walk across the bridge where certain bodies were beaten while other bodies delivered the blows. Today we, like those who have gone before, will live and breathe and move… and pray together.
Will we persevere? Will we embody our faith here in this moment and in all those that will follow after this sacred journey?
The Awakening Series seeks to engage the intersections of culture and faith, particularly around areas of injustice and moral responsibility. Through faith formation opportunities that address issues of our daily lives, we are working to create shalom (wholeness, equity, justice, and peace) for all.