On the third Sunday after the Charleston Massacre, on the day after the 4th of July, we read Ezekiel’s call story and the story of Christ returning home, where he is rejected by his own people and can do no deeds of power among them. And this was the first Sunday after Bree Newsome, an African-American woman, shimmied up a flagpole in Charleston, South Carolina, and took down the Confederate flag, quoting the 27th Psalm and the Lord’s prayer on her way down, where James Tyson, a white man, waited to help her get over the fence.
We read from Bree Newsome’s statement, Our Time Has Come (Bree Newsome’s complete statement), asking what God is calling us see and do through her prophetic words and her prophetic act. We emphasize our belief that responding to God’s call to us as individuals and a church is a choice; and we remember that call is ineffective absent community.
The media is playing President Obama’s singing of Amazing Grace in his eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinkney. But the President’s eulogy offers much more than this song: he calls us to express God’s grace today, in our world; he tells the truth about racism in the United States–about the Confederate Flag, Gun Control, the prison system, poverty–all within the context of faith.
I invite all of my friends: those who have not lost their faith in the church and who seek to express God’s grace with their lives; those who have left the church because it has worshiped its own traditions, because has been too slow to engage the movements for human dignity and justice of our age, because it has loved comfort and feared conflict; and those who see faith as weakness and belief as a sham; I invite all of my friends to watch the entire video of President Obama’s eulogy, or download the full text ( .pdf | .docx ): the President puts into words what I believe and what Christians in my life see as the heart of faith.