Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reflections as Day Four Begins

Last night I posted some reflections as our pilgrimage brought us from Birmingham to Selma, and then from Selma to Montgomery. Last night there was an event hosted by the Bishop and Diocese of Alabama at St. John's Episcopal Church in Montgomery. There we were joined by other pilgrims who have come here by other roads - a group from New Hampshire, a group from the Diocese of New York, and others - all of us here to join today with the Diocese of Alabama in Hayneville, where Jonathan Daniels was shot and killed.

And so today, after breakfast, we will remember Jonathan's act of love in Hayneville along with many others. Before we leave, however, I wanted to share a few more images from yesterday, a bit more reflection, and a prayer.

Western Mass Pilgrims at St. Paul's in Selma
"Get in the way" - a reminder that the gospel is not the same as having good manners!
The sign says, "still leading the march from struggle to salvation"
Morris Dees, Jr. at St. John's in Montgomery
A few thoughts are foremost on my heart as this day begins. While we focus on the light that shone through Jonathan Daniels willingness to give up his life for another, I am deeply aware of the players who were all around him not only today but in his work. He was not a lone ranger. He was shaped and formed by a tradition - a tradition committed to Mary's Prayer for herself, her Son, and for the world. "May our souls magnify the Lord!"

I'm struck by the man who spoke yesterday about the work that the vestry did at St. Paul's in Selma toward integrating that congregation. We may wish in an idealistic wish dream world that it was just always so, that change like that should never have to happen. I think a lot of clergy and lay people carry such wish dreams (as Bonhoeffer called them) around in their heads - so when the work of healing and transformation begins we want it to come to closure; quickly. It doesn't work like that. The vestry voted initially 2-13 - against integrating their church. It required many more votes, more argument, more prayer, more work and more willingness to engage conflict before the vote went the other way - 8-7. And then the the largest pledger left the parish. (Of course you knew that was coming.)

The Body of Christ in our day needs to discover and rediscover that every body needs not only hands and feet and eyes and ears but a backbone. No one said the work would be easy, and so we press on toward the goal.

And last night I was just drawn into the hope and idealism of Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center. We need to change hearts and minds; this is one part of the work of the Church. But we need to use the law - to know the law. The ministry of the SPLC over four and a half decades is needed today more than ever. I knew this, and have long admired their work but I found a renewed respect for and appreciation for that commitment to keep calling this "land of the free" to live into that promise. I left that speech last night inspired, and hopeful. And also realizing they've been at it for 44 years and some days it must surely feel like it is just the beginning.. This work is a marathon, not a sprint.

Twice yesterday in our travels the prayer for the whole human family was offered. As I begin this day it is on my lips and in my heart.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus Christ your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.  (From The Book of Common Prayer, pg. 815)

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