On Our Knees with Arms Locked Together
I am not a football fan and do not watch the games. But this week I have been drawn to the images of the various pro-football teams/players stating their protest of the racist attitude of our president and the blatant racism that is alive and well in our communities and country. To some the issue is the flag and the national anthem, but I feel that the real issue is racism and the protests across the country are trying to underscore the treatment of the non-white population by our policies, our political leaders and our numerous acts of injustice and hate.
I firmly believe that we are called to be responsible citizens and responsible Christians. At times this is easy, but at other times the tensions and ambiguities between these two roles are not easily resolved. During this time of crisis in our country, I firmly believe that each of us has a Christian duty to protest, debate, and work to bring unity to our communities. I understand these actions of debate, questioning and expressions of concern to be my patriotic duty and responsibility as a citizen of the United States as well as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Maybe it is time that all of us get on our knees with our arms locked together to pray, to protest, to take non-violent action, to speak out against racism. For some of us God is leading us to conversations with our friends and neighbors; some are called to letter writing campaigns to government officials; some are being led to interfaith and interracial prayer services and conversations of what it means to live together. Others are called to take to the streets, to march and carry placards, to be arrested and spend time in jail. Whatever form your protest takes, it is important and a way of witnessing to your faith in God’s values of love, justice and righteousness and an expression of love for our country. Hopefully our protests will be done as acts of non-violence and with words that are spoken gently but firmly.
Prayer for others and for our country can takes the form of lament as we see in the Psalms; it can be an expression of frustration or joy; it can be done in anger or simply an expression of desire. As we pray alone or in a group we are honoring God, expressing to God our faith that God is in charge of the world. As in the Bible our prayers in this time of crisis should be persistent, shameless in expressing the need for the elimination of racial tension, bullying/taunting of those of different ethnic backgrounds, and the need for justice and peace.
Retired Bishop Ernest Lyght posted on Facebook a reminder that in John 13:1-17, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. He summarized this story in this way: “Jesus took a knee and washed the feet of the disciples.” The message is clear – we too are to show mercy, compassion, solidarity and justice. Let us kneel and lock arms with all brothers and sisters as we continue the journey eliminating racism.
Joyce D. Sohl has been Laywoman-in-Residence since 2009 as a full-time volunteer. She retired as CEO of United Methodist Women in 2004. She is the author of 4 books, a teacher, retreat leader, writer and non-professional musician. Here at the Center her work is in the area of Spirituality & the Arts with such programs as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers & All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, quarterly retreats, and art exhibits.