Three Weeks Ago…
Three weeks ago, white supremacist terrorists, incited by the outgoing President and others who promulgated lies about a “stolen” election, attacked the U.S. Capitol Building. Congress was in session to certify the electoral college votes and declare Joseph Biden the winner of the presidential election. By the end of the day, five people lay dead and a sixth would die three days later.
Three weeks ago, on the same day, Rev. Raphael Warnock (graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City), pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where MLK once served, became the first black Senator from Georgia, and Jon Ossoff, son of immigrants, became the first Jewish Senator from Georgia.
Two weeks ago, nearly 450 people responded to an invitation extended by the Maine Council of Churches and The BTS Center to gather for prayerful listening to Dr. King’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail, read by fourteen of Maine’s faith leaders.
One week ago yesterday, the new President of the United States was inaugurated and sworn in on the west side of the Capitol Building on the same steps where the January 6 attackers had swarmed.
While the inauguration felt like a reclaiming, a sanctifying of desecrated space, the profoundly disturbing trauma we had endured (the trauma not only of January 6 but of the past ten months and the past four years) still hung in the air, compounded by the eerie sight of National Guard troops patrolling the empty Mall and of inaugural guests wearing face masks, refraining from handshakes and hugs, and seated six feet apart because of the pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans, with death rates for Black, Indigenous and Latinx Americans double (or more) those for Whites and Asians.
A self-described “skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” wearing a canary yellow coat and bright red headband, stepped to the just-sanitized podium, took a deep breath, and began, through her poetry, her elegant arms and dancing hands, and her strong and determined voice, to tell the truth about the trauma—of the past three weeks, the past ten months, the past four years, and the past 400 years—and to tell the truth about why we are still justified in having hope. She convinced an “unfinished” nation it has the capacity and the opportunity to “forge a union with purpose, seeking harm to none and harmony for all.”
May her words help shape the mission not only of our nation, but of our Council of Churches and all the congregations it represents:
That even as we grieve, we grow; even as we hurt, we hope; even as we tire, we try.
That quiet isn’t always peace, and what “just is” isn’t always justice.
That love can become our legacy.
That there is always light
if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.
Amen and Amen.
Rev. Jane Field