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Essay

Pray, Protest, Political Change

By November 26, 2014 No Comments
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Last night I went to First Corinthian Baptist Church in Central Harlem for an interfaith prayer service that served as a call to remembrance of Mike Brown and a call to hope to change systems of injustice.

We had an honest and much needed conversation about race in America. It was an honor to be in such company and take part in this conversation.  Some of my other clergy friends were on the Manhattan Bridge, praying with their legs (otherwise known as protesting).

We are people of faith that stand in long traditions of clergy who believe we are responsible to pray, protest, and act for political change.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the last 48 hours after a grand jury did not indict Officer Darren Wilson after he killed Michael Brown who was unarmed. I have a lot of personal commentary that seems inadequate right now. I am disappointed and heeding the words of the Brown family as I channel my frustration to make a positive difference.

I’m thinking about my own faith tradition and garnering wisdom and strength from the Belhar Confession that says:

Therefore, we reject any ideology which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel. We believe that, in obedience to Jesus Christ, its only head, the church is called to confess and to do all these things, even though the authorities and human laws might forbid them and punishment and suffering be the consequence.

Our faith tradition calls us to pray, protest, and act for political change.

There are two blog posts that have provided me guidance in the last couple of days. The first is by Janee Woods and is entitled 12 Things white people can do now because FergusonIt is full of practical wisdom and serves as a prophetic call to truth and reconciliation.

The second post is by a Dr. Christena Cleveland who is a scholar and Christian theologian I turn to often. In her piece The Cross and the Molotov Cocktail she writes:

Can you see the suffering Christ in the oppressed, even the ones who aren’t responding perfectly to society’s oppression? Christ doesn’t just suffer for the innocent, the ones who don’t have the energy to fight back, or the ones who perfectly respond to injustice. He suffers for the ones who suffer now and sin in their suffering.

May we all continue to pray with our hearts and our legs, the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other, as we embody the words of the Belhar Confession and “stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.”

Let us lean into our religious tradition as we pray, protest, and work for political change.

 

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.

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