[Given on Sunday, February 22, 2015, by The Rev. Fr. Marcus Halley at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church – Kansas City, MO] Mark 1:12 (1:9-15) O God, take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire with love for you; may your kingdom come, … Continue reading Sermon: Wondering and Wandering in the Wilderness
But my situatedness as a Black man in this country has not, and will not, allow me to forget Ferguson. Ferguson was a watershed moment in my life and in my vocation as a priest. Ferguson made clear to me that the Church has no authentic voice if it is not a voice that demands justice for the oppressed. Ferguson made clear to me that Jesus means nothing if he is not found on the margins of our common life, with those crushed and suffocating under the stifling weight of empire, those whose backs are against the wall. Ferguson made clear to me that I am nothing and that my priestcraft is worthless if I am not creating disciples who are passionate about justice in the world and leading a worship that inspires and empowers people towards those ends. Ferguson changed everything.
How are people of faith called to engage faith in the wake of an outbreak of state-sanctioned executions of Black and Brown people? I've struggled with this answer. I have struggled with people asking for the protesters and demonstrators to remain "peaceful" while not placing an equal burden on a system to provide the justice that makes peace possible in the first place. I have struggled with what it means to have a prophetic voice in a faith community who represent a different narrative than my own. I have struggled in my own devotional life with "how do I pray when I can't breathe?"
Conscious African Americans are in a constant state of rage against a system whose very foundation was constructed to keep them oppressed and has only recently been retrofitted to allow for some semblance of "liberation."
Hell is when you are suffering and when you are left alone. Hell is when the hungry are not fed, when the thirsty are not given anything to drink, when the stranger is not welcomed, when the naked are not clothed, when the sick and the imprisoned are not visited, when the depressed are not cared for, when the oppressed are not liberated, when the victims are not vindicated. If righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne, then where there is no righteousness and where there is no justice, there is only Hell.