The Unsilent Church:

Reclaiming the church as a great social justice movement maker

“Walker’s candidacy is a fundamental assault by the Republican Party on the dignity of Black Americans.”

Caroline Randall Williams, The Atlantic

Dear friends—

Josiah and I stayed up too late again last night watching the Georgia runoff results.   To be sure, I am breathing a bit easier today knowing that the Rev. Dr. Senator Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has been elected to a full term as the first Black Senator of Georgia.  We stayed up long enough to listen to his victory sermon…what a powerful and beautiful moment it was for a dignified and kind man who had to run six statewide elections in two and a half years to reach that goal.  He started his speech by stating, “The people have spoken…”  Yes, indeed they did!

But I confess that I had a knot in my stomach all night.  Not just because I was nervous about the outcome of the election, but because the whole thing has felt icky for months.  I hated that Rev. Warnock had to endure the disgrace of running a serious, thoughtful campaign against a wholly unqualified person whose mere presence on the campaign trail was a sham.  I hated it!  It felt demeaning.  I stand in awe of Senator Warnock  unwavering patience and endurance in the face of such a mockery.  He (and the growing multi-racial coalition that supported him) never should have had to endure this, but this is what white supremacy forces Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color to bear to rise to positions of power.  Strike that…this is what white supremacy forces all people of color to suffer each day of their lives.

I don’t think we white folks really get this.  Walker’s candidacy is an embarrassment for most Black people.  It is humiliating to see him discern in real time if he wanted to be a vampire or a werewolf.  It isn’t at all funny…it is belittling beyond belief for Black people.  It was embarrassing that former President Barak Obama had to address that, though he did so masterfully.  It is enraging that a primarily white political party in Georgia thinks so poorly of people of color that they sincerely thought a famous Black football player would somehow hoodwink enough Black voters to flip the seat.  Day in and day out, Senator Warnock traveled Georgia going high when the GOP went lower and lower.  And don’t get me started on the fact that Warnock had to win that seat twice in a month.  But nevertheless the Rev. Dr. Senator Raphael Warnock and the coalition supporting him persisted, and thank God that they did so!  But damn…

Last Sunday, we lit the Advent candle of Peace.  The American church has diluted “peace” to the mere absence of conflict.  Peace in the US is only about getting along with everyone.  That is not God’s peace.  God’s peace is rooted in equity where all people have all opportunities to reach their fullest potential.  What we witnessed in Georgia was far, far from equitable.  Isaiah’s image in chapter 11 lays it out for us, God’s idea of peace, of equity:

Righteousness will be the belt around his hips,
    and faithfulness the belt around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
    and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
    the calf and the young lion will feed together,
    and a little child will lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze.
    Their young will lie down together,
    and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole;
    toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain.
    The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,
    just as the water covers the sea.

Isaiah 2: 5-9, Common English Bible

It is okay to celebrate.  It is okay be relieved.  But we have work to do…the sacred work of equity and peace.







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