Monday, August 28, 2017

Who Do you say that I am? Mathew 16:13-20

A fourth-grade teacher was giving her pupils a lesson in logic.

"Here is the situation," she said.

"A man is standing up in a boat in the middle of a river, fishing.

He loses his balance, falls in, and begins splashing and yelling for help.

His wife hears the commotion, knows he can’t swim,

and runs down to the bank.

Why do you think she ran to the bank?"

A girl raised her hand and asked, "To draw out all his savings?"[1]

So today the disciples are faced with a similar situation –like being in class when the teacher asks a very important question. They want to seem intelligent so they blurt out an answer –not always the right one –but an answer none the less.

Well this morning Peter blurts out an answer that is both correct and amazing which is pretty good for Peter but don’t worry he messes it up in the next passage.

We are familiar with all the miracle stories.  We have heard of the wedding at Cana, feeding the people, healing the Canaanite woman’s daughter. Great things have been happening everywhere that Jesus and the disciples have gone.

So today Jesus asks two essential questions first he asks who do the people say I am.  What rumors or understanding of what has been happening around them is going on?  Christ is asking the disciples for a summary of the crowds. All of them regarded him as some kind of prophet or of one sent by God, But the answers  never really hold much conviction. The disciples in verse 14 tell Him many people think He is John the Baptist or one of the great prophets. And, this is where it gets interesting this is when the story gets personal. Jesus asks “What about you?  Who do you say I am?”

Jesus asked this of His closest followers and yet only one of them had any kind of an answer. “The rest just stood there and looked at him. They flat out didn’t know what to say. You know, the fact that these were his closest followers and friends That didn’t know how to answer such a direct question makes me wonder, what if I he were to ask us that same question today?”

What would you say? Does the answer come quickly or would it be difficult in today’s secular climate to make such a bold answer?

If we look at Jesus’ actions, if he were here today doing many of the things he did then how would you answer?  A Methodist Minister named John Nadasi had some pretty interesting insight to this he states people would see him as a criminal.


Well, he would have everyone mad at him.

the FDA for turning water into wine without a license,

the EPA for killing fig trees,

the AMA for practicing medicine without a license,

the Dept. of Health for asking people to open graves,

for raising the dead and for feeding 5,000 people in the wilderness,

the NEA for teaching without a certificate,

OSHA for walking on water without a lifejacket

and for flying without an airplane,

the SPCA for driving hogs into the sea,

the NATIONAL BOARD of PSYCHIATRISTS for giving advice

on how to live a guilt free life,

the NOW for not choosing a female apostle,

the ABORTION RIGHTS LEAGUE for saying that whoever harms

children, it is better that they had never been born,

the INTERFAITH MOVEMENT for condemning all other religions,

and by the ZONING DEPT for building heavenly mansions without a building permit.”[2]

I am sure if we tried we could think of even a few more to add to that list and I admit I take exception to the statement that he didn’t name a female apostle for I believe they were named and then washed out by male hierarchy.  But that is just my suspicion considering the prominent role women had in certain aspects of the Gospel they are not just women in passing but named.  That is another sermon.

One interesting aspect of this is the apostles first response to Jesus’ Question. “The disciples answer by naming people who are dead. John the Baptist, a contemporary of Jesus; Elijah, a harbinger of the messiah and of the role John the Baptist plays in the gospel stories; Jeremiah (a favorite in Matthew), or one of the prophets. Perhaps John represents the spirit of a movement that Herod could not kill despite John's beheading. Elijah represents the hope of divine activity for Israel's sake. The prophets delivered God's word with its creative power. The disciples' answer implies the perception that divine creative power is stirring that the imperial powers of Rome cannot kill.”[3] But I would venture to say that a clear understanding what Messiah is or would be is not there yet.

This is why Peter’s response is so amazing. Jesus even tells us it is amazing basically saying wow there is no way this came to you through your own process for “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in heaven!”  This concept of being the Son of the Living God and Messiah is a concept beyond the Jewish people of Jesus time, beyond the apostles standing there. and it may even be beyond us still today.

This reading today challenges us to our soul.  To our core of Christian belief…How?  Well the question Jesus asks of Peter is one still being asked to us today and I bet each one of our responses is a little different.

According to the UCC statement of faith this is our calling;

We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify:

 so we are called to testify to the works of Christ …to testify to his mission of reaching out to the marginalized, the oppressed, to all people with love and empathy and compassion

God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image, and sets before us the ways of life and death.

 Before us are choices and we are free to make choices that lead to full lives in God or lives that are selfish and isolating but more importantly each one of us is an image of the creator an image of the divine and such this is how we are called to respect and care for each other… there are no exceptions everyone is an image of God

God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

This statement means that God is active, seeking us out.  This is not a passive inert God but a god moving in this world in our lives walking besides us and engaging us in something bigger and beyond ourselves and beyond this world towards the reality of the kin-dom of God.

God judges all humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.

God Judges all humanity…sounds harsh but by that will of righteousness that is declared through the prophets and the apostles I interpret that to mean God created us just as we are and in his Judgement, he calls us to be better.  God knows we are human and knows we are not perfect and knows we will stray from the path but his judgement is not one of shame or punishment but one of love that calls us and challenges us to grow in God’s love to be better because we can be, we can always be better as individuals and especially as one people created in the image of God

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator.

 Jesus was born to deliver us from our sins and in dying destroyed death as it once was, opening Gods experience to our human experience. “reconciling the whole of creation to its creator” … In many ways, this was the beginning of centuries of a healing process, for human kind had chosen to so alienated itself from God that we are still working toward that goal of bringing us all back to the loving creator.

God bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

Through us here today the holy spirit is doing something. The Holy Spirit is moving something that is a part of the process of renewing the church through the faithful. Now I will say something here that many may not like but there are many faithful Christians and each one of us have had a glimpse at the truth, and none of us have got it all right.  But that is the miracle and the glory of the church each one of us moved by the Holy Spirit to do the best we can and hopefully the world will be better for it. This is why we hold the Christian church in prayer for we are often at odds with one another and our call is to find common ground in caring for the poor, the marginalized and the disposed, to do the best we can and pray that the spirit of God will continue to draw us closer together as we work towards being the kin-dom of God here on earth.

God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

This statement sums up what I have been saying. This is hard but it is what we are called to be in the United Church of Christ God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, there is a cost to discipleship and part of that is actually saying who Christ is and be bold in a world that may challenge us. to be servants in the service of the whole human family, we do not get to pick who we serve, we do not get to say I’ll pray for you but not you, we do not get to say there is only one way and a best way or an easy way to serve Christ. We just don’t! We are called to serve the whole human family,  to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, now just because we are called to serve the whole family does not mean we are complacent after all resistance is a spiritual practice… but when we show our opposition and our resistance, spiritually, this means no harm shall come to another by my hand…  This is hard stuff…to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory. This is the gift of the hard work, we get to take rest at Christs table, we get to share in Christ’s victory over death, but in the meant time we are called to all this other stuff …all this work…but in the end the profession of faith says this

God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end.[4]

So, when all this is said and done who do you say that I am is not an easy question and in this day and age it is challenging. I know many have been wounded and abused by the church and I see Christian bashing all the time.  You see we all get lumped into the same boat.  Most people who are not active in a church or a Christian community do not know the difference between Pat Robertson from the 700 club or my friend Patrick Rogers a UCC minister in Ft Lauderdale.

Many times, it is the one who has the most money that gets the airplay and that is what defines Christianity for many people.  So many times, before we can answer the question “Who do you say that I am?” We, as the United Church of Christ; a United and Uniting Church, that proclaims No matter who you are or where you are in life’s Journey you are welcome, A Church that believes in a truly extravagant welcome and a Loving God, we get lumped in as Christian and all the baggage that comes with that.

Many times I have had to say, or write because a lot of this comes out in social media, that I am not that kind of Christian.  I say who I believe Jesus is by relating my experience of a denomination that works to heal division. A denomination that seeks out injustice and works to correct that. 

This the denomination that because of our history and the justice work we seek out we have many firsts.

Our past includes the first churches to speak out against slavery, the first ordained African American Pastor, the first foreign mission society, and the first woman pastor.  I think this partially answers the question “who do you say I am?”[5]

The United Church of Christ has many mission projects we partner with and this may answer the question.  Such as we currently as a denomination work with Border links in Arizona, heifer international, Habitat for Humanity, the fuller center for housing in Macon Georgia, and “The Appalachia Service Project (ASP) which repairs homes for the poorest families in Central Appalachia with the vision that substandard housing in Central Appalachia might be eradicated and everyone who comes into contact with this ministry will be transformed.”

Globally we have many projects including our newest focus, the Caribbean Initiative. “The Caribbean Initiative invites the whole church to witness together with the Caribbean region through education, advocacy, and support of our partners for the next eighteen months.  Partner churches and organizations in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia, bring incredible gifts in their strong testimonies, as they receive and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. They provide us with a broader understanding of the many ways in which God is seen at work in the world and challenge us to expand our vision of the Church. Our hope and prayer is that through many and varied experiences, we will better understand the issues, priorities, successes, and struggles of sisters and brothers in the Caribbean and, in turn, be challenged to understand ourselves, our world, and our faith anew.”[6]

As I have been exploring and rambling on it has come to me that maybe the Answer to who do you say I am is no longer a vocal proclamation.  Perhaps we need to be more than that, we need to be proclamation in action.  Such as our partnership here with Cots helping them deliver a few bags of food a week. Our upcoming fair-trade boutique where we feature artisans from around the world who get fair pay for the work they do and their whole community benefits from our simple act of intentional shopping. Even sending cards, reaching out to each other and gathering to share meals together I believe that may answer the question of “who do you say I am?” Much louder than any proclamation can.

When we work to live the best lives, we can.  When we choose to struggle to grow together as community, when we reach out to those who are marginalized, abandoned and scorned by society, when we live as blessed and beloved children of an all loving all welcoming God that is when we best answer the Question!

So in light of all this, in the light of all we have heard to day I’ll repeat the question.  Jesus asks, “Who do you say I am?”  I am wondering in what unique and new ways we might be called to answer?

[1] John Nadasi, Who do oyu say that I am?, July 24, 2002, accessed July 23, 2017,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Marilyn Salmon, Commentary on Mathew 16:13-20, August 24, 2008, accessed August 23, 2017,
[4] Robert V. Moss, United Church of Christ Statement of Faith, 2017, accessed August 23, 2017,
[5] United Church of Christ, UCC Firsts, accessed August 23, 2017,
[6] Global Ministries, The Carribean Initiative, 2017, accessed August 23, 2017,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

what comes out of the mouth comes from the Heart Mathew 15:10-28

What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart

See what would be more lovely or delightful for than brethren to dwell together? Psalm 133

“Hear and understand it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out of the mouth that defiles” Oh Lord why did this have to be the opening of today’s readings “what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart.”

I may have had the luxury of studying at oxford for the past few weeks and I did truly enjoy it.  I left you in the most trusted hands I know that of my husband and I hear no one is no worse for it.  Though I tried to make it as much of a retreat as possible well… evening news streams live at 7:05 am oxford time.

Oxford time is five minutes behind of Greenwich meantime and when Greenwich set the meantime Christ church said we are keeping our time so “at 9:05 (9pm oxford time) every evening Great Tom, Christ Church’s famous bell, rings out 101 times.  This dates from the foundation of the college when the bell rang once for each of the colleges original 101 students, in order to tell them to return to the college before the gates were locked.  The bell then remains silent until 8am when it returns to striking every hour on the hour (Greenwich Time) until 9pm in the evening.” [1] So every service and class technically starts at 5 after the hour.

Any way I did not have the luxury of being secluded from the world nor the mad events that happened over last weekend and continue to be played out in the media. “hear and understand it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out of the mouth that defiles…what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and those are the things that defile a person.” So the other side of that coin is what comes out of the mouth can be a blessing as well and I want to share some of those blessings.

There has been hate speech.  People were attacked…Clergy were attacked. Our leadership in the secular world failed big time… what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart… My heart was breaking and being so far away I could not be anywhere to do anything about it.  The reverend Traci Blackmon  our executive minister of justice and witness ministries  she was there in Charlotte.

Allow me to read to you who she is…this is from the United Church of Christ website

The Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries of The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.

Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for nine years prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 159-year history of Christ The King United Church of Christ.  A registered nurse with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, Rev. Blackmon's clinical focus was cardiac care.  In later years, her focus shifted to mobile healthcare in underserved communities, with the greatest health disparities being in her region.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Birmingham - Southern College (1985), and a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary (2009).

As pastor, Rev. Blackmon leads Christ The King in an expanded understanding of church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change.  This ethos has led to a tripling of both membership and worship attendance over the last seven years, expanding membership engagement opportunities, and the establishment of community outreach programs.  Community programming includes a computer lab, tutoring, continuing education classes, summer programming, a robotics team, children's library, and girls' mentoring program.  All housed in the church.

Regionally, Rev. Blackmon's signature initiatives have included Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit, a mobile faith-based outreach program she designed to impact health outcomes in impoverished areas.  Sacred Conversations on Solomon’s Porch, quarterly clergy in-services designed to equip local clergy to assess physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health concerns within congregational life.  Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational health symposium for women and girls.  In addition to, Souls to the Polls STL, an ecumenical, multi-faith collaborative that was successful in providing over 2,800 additional rides to the polls during local and national elections.

A featured voice with many regional, national, and international media outlets and a frequent contributor to print publications, Rev. Blackmon's communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson, MO, has gained her both national and international recognition and audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican.  She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack H. Obama.

Rev. Blackmon toured the nation with Rev. Dr. William Barber of Moral Mondays and Repairer of the Breech, Rev. Dr. James Forbes of The Drum Major Institute and Pastor Emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York, and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus, proclaiming the need for a Moral Revival in this nation.

Rev. Blackmon is a graduate of Leadership St. Louis and currently serves on the boards of The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary, and WomanPreach!

This year, Rev. Blackmon co-authored the newly released White Privilege curriculum through the United Church of Christ and has received several awards and recognitions, inclusive of:

The White House President’s Volunteer Service Award

The St. Louis American Stellar Award

2015 Ebony Magazine Power 100

Deluxe Magazine Power 100

St. Louis University - Community Leader of the Year

100 Black Men of St. Louis Community Leader of the Year

The Coalition of Black Trade Unionist - Drum Major Award

NAACP - Rosa Parks Award

Rosa Parks Award - United Trade Unionist

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis Woman in Leadership Award

National Planned Parenthood Faith Leader Award

The United Church of Christ - Antoinette Brown Leadership Award

Honorary Doctorate, Eden Theological Seminary

Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and was recently named as one of St. Louis' 100 most influential voices.  Rev. Blackmon is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon; Harold, II; and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.

The reason I tell you all of this about Traci is because of who she is is the reason she was in Charlottesville over the weekend.  She was there for an interfaith prayer vigil.  She was being interviewed on msnbc’s AM Joy with Joy Reid when they had to rush her off because the protesters saw her and started to target her.  She later finished that interview by phone from another location.

Well just this week Joy had the opportunity to sit down with Traci and have an interview I want to share that transcript with you.  I had to transcribe this myself as transcripts are not available till a week after the interviews.

These are direct quotes from all in with Chris Hayes from 8/14  Joy Reid was filling in..; joy asked Traci what she felt about the presidents comments…she says

“I say these words with the utmost seriousness, I rarely use these words, but they apply here.  Donald Trump is lying!  And here’s the deal, he spends more time on twitter than he spends anywhere else and what was happening Friday Night was being lived streamed and I am telling you that we were in a church, having worship service at no point in that service was there even a protest.

It was a multi faith worship service in a standing room only capacity filled church with children, with mothers, with elderly, with people my age in the middle and young people.  We were worshipping and close to the close of our worship service we received the message that we could not leave the church because a mob was approaching the church with torches.  They were chanting Blood and soil, they were chanting you will not replace us, they were chanting Jews will not replace us, they were chanting white lives matter and for over 30 minute we could not leave the church.

When we were finally allowed to leave, we could not go out the front door for fear that we would be assaulted, we were ushered out the side door and the back door into alleys.  This is America in 2017 and I would not have believed it Joy.  As I was going to tell you before when we were trying to do the interview…I am from Birmingham Alabama this is not the first time I’ve seen Klan’s rally’s, it is not the first time I’ve seen Klan parades but when I tell you we got in a car to leave and had to drive through this mob which was then on the sidewalks and not in the street when I tell you I wept when I saw people who had exchanged sheets for polo’s and oxford’s.  Many of them were wearing the make America great again baseball caps, holding baseball bats in one arm and torches in the other.  It is unconscionable that this president that this was a deserved thing that happened this weekend.”

Joy proceeds to play a clip from the president when he claimed both groups had clubs and traci responds

“Again Donald Trump is lying what I am telling you is they had a permit for the park, they did not have a permit to harm people, They did not have a permit to throw full bottles water and full cans of soda and splatter urine on people who did not agree with them their permit did not cover that Joy and I'd like to ask Mr. Trump he has had time now to make three different responses to this incident has he even taken a moment to  call the family of Heather and offer condolences on the behalf of this nation has he taken a moment to consider the 20 people who were hurt and offer the sympathy of this nation this is not a leader, this is not a leader and I am ashamed at what is happening in our highest office.”

Joy proceeds to ask who was in your group because the president has essentially claimed that both groups were equal to neo Nazis and white nationalists.

Reverend Traci states; “that is very interesting because this was a faith base led group, largely clergy, all people of faith, of different faiths, there were Jews, there were Muslims, there were Christians there were indeed some people who didn’t profess any faith in that way but just had the moral consciousness that said it is not okay for people to descend on a city, a city by the way, where most residents are descendants of the enslaved!  It is not okay for them to descend on this city and wreak terror!

We knew this was going to be violent because we had the fliers, the promotional fliers that these groups had already sent out. There were fliers calling for a race war, flyers calling to say we are coming to take our country back.  Are you kidding me? And the president wants to talk about revising history? Read some history Black people built this country!”

Finally, Joy asks Rev. Traci in your view were the fascist groups perpetrating the violence or were they victims of the violence?

Traci had simply replies; “no they were not!  As a matter of fact, there were some clergy standing on the steps to the entrance to the park they were not in the park they were standing on the steps to the entrance to the park, singing ‘this little light of mine.’ These neo-Nazi groups came, burst through with shields, and began beating and trampling on them and the groups that Donald Trump are calling Terrorists are the ones who saved their lives because the police were standing down.  They saved their lives.”[2]

Our Denomination has put out this letter in response

“Last weekend, a group of white supremacists came to Charlottesville, Virginia, and incited violence to protest the removal of a Confederate monument. Although protest is the bedrock of our nation’s democracy, coming in riot gear proves that they intended to do more than simply protest.

We, the Council of Conference Ministers and Officers of the United Church of Christ, strongly condemn the acts of violent hatred expressed by these white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members. Their white robes and burning crosses were replaced with polo shirts, khakis, and tiki torches, while their lynching was replaced with a speeding car barreling through a group of peaceful protesters with the intention of harming and killing others, which it did. Their vitriolic hatred is the same.

We confess that the events of Charlottesville are systemic and communal expressions of white privilege and racism that continues to pervade our nation’s spiritual ethos. And if we only condemn the acts of August 12, 2017, without condemning the roots of racism, which perpetuate discrimination in our American schools, justice system, business, and healthcare systems, then we have sinned as well. We must work toward the Kin-dom of Heaven here on earth now for the sake of a just world for all.

We do this by committing to follow the ways of Jesus, who stood with the oppressed, spoke out against political and religious powers, and courageously embodied a just world for all as he sought to create it. Today, we must follow the ways of Jesus in addressing the hatred of white supremacists and racists among us.

Our local UCC churches must be true solidarity partners with those who march in the streets.  Our UCC churches are encouraged to move from the sanctuary and walk alongside other clergy and community leaders who seek to resist, agitate, inform, and comfort. We must resist hatred and violence. We must also agitate ourselves, and our neighbors to acknowledge any racism within or among us. We must inform ourselves, and our neighbors what our sacred stories reveal to us of a just world for all. We must lament and grieve with those who are injured or murdered during violent confrontations with those who mean us harm. And we must comfort those who have been discriminated against with the transformative love of God.

As we go forward, let us model the legacy of activism through our sacred call given to us by our UCC ancestors: May we be prophetic truth-tellers like our Congregational Christian forebears, who marched in public squares demanding equality for all. May we serve others, and remain faithful witnesses like our Evangelical and Reformed forebears, who tended to the needs of the forgotten. And may we be courageous like our non-UCC forebears, who left their spiritual home and joined the UCC in order to fully live out who God created them to be.

In the days to come, may God's truth, mission, and courage be our guide to embodying the Kin-dom of Heaven here on earth.”[3]

Hiney Matov umah naim shevet achim gam yachad…behold how good and pleasant it is for people to dwell in unity

Well we are not, as a nation we stand divided, we are divided by rhetoric, by education or lack thereof, we are divided by class, we are divided by race, we are divided by ethnicity and yet most of us manage to get by day to day without much of a care in the world.  Most of us get by day to day without even noticing that we are not one people.

But as we go by in our day to day lives a group of people got left behind.  Some how in  the midst of fighting discrimination and winning civil rights some people got left behind. My heart breaks for them, we cannot allow their rhetoric or radical extreme views become the norm.  We must stand against their rhetoric as the letter states we must be prophetic truth tellers but I will go a step further we must be prophetic in our prayers. We must pray for God to change hearts.  We must pray for our leaders who will place themselves in harms way so that the prophetic vision of God’s love for all may be proclaimed and we must pray for comfort.  Comfort for the victims of the violence which in all honesty is every one of us for we are all affected by these events whether we realize it or not.

Let us pray

Prayer of Confession:

God of peace,

give us the courage, strength and perseverance needed,

to challenge the systems of racism,

so that we can clear a path for your justice, peace, and equity.

We believe racism is present

in our society and in our church,

and throughout time has manifested itself in many forms and in varying degrees.

We know racism is alive

in our language and in our structures,

and through our systems it actively works to deconstruct your glorious design,

blocking the path to justice, equity, and peace that Jesus brings.

Racism exists, and it challenges the gospel message that we cry.

We cry abundant life for all,

knowing that we are slowly being suffocated by the pervasive evil of racism:

               some of us are choking;

               some of us cannot breathe;

               some of us are dead.

We cry peace,

knowing that we are the instruments of God’s peace

and that such peace cannot exist without justice, equity, compassion, and God’s grace.

We cry Emmanuel, God with us,

knowing that to God, every life matters—God is with all people—

even though as a community and as a society

we have stated through our actions that some lives matter more than others.

Compassionate One,

Help us to understand how racism finds life in our hearts and in our cries.

In this time of tense anticipation,

may we commit ourselves to be people of your way

crying and creating a path for justice, equity, and peace

for all people in this wilderness of hatred and racism.


—a prayer for Black History Month by Alydia Smith

As we work to create a path for justice , equity and peace we know that the pathway is only lit through the love of God and so we will join in singing the song that the clergy was singing on the steps to the park when they were attacked…this little light of mine

[1] greenwich2000, Oxford time, accessed August 16, 2017, meantime/info/oxfordgreenwich.
[2] Joy Reid, “All in with Chris Hayes 8/14/17,” 8/14/17,!#full-episodes/8/14/17.  transcribed from recorded broadcast.
[3] United Church of Christ, Home / News and Events / United Church of Christ News, August 15, 2017, accessed August 17, 2017,