CLC Blog

in Prayer

Emanuel Nine, Martyrs

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On June 17, 2015, Clementa C. Pinckney, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Lee Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson were murdered by a self-professed white supremacist while they were gathered for Bible study and prayer at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (often referred to as Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina. Pastors Pinckney and Simmons were both graduates of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. A resolution to commemorate June 17 as a day of repentance for the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine was adopted by the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on August 8, 2019. Congregations of the ELCA are encouraged reaffirm their commitment to repenting of the sins of racism and white supremacy which continue to plague this church, to venerate the martyrdom of the Emanuel Nine, and to mark this day of penitence with study and prayer. (sundaysandseasons.com).

Today is a day of prayer and repentance for CLC and for our whole ELCA church body. CLC is part of a denomination called the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  A boy who grew up in one of our churches, who served as an acolyte, grew into a white supremacist. He was graciously welcomed into a Bible Study at Mother Emanuel Church and proceeded to murder all who were there with him. He was hoping to start a race war.

We lament the part our church body played in this murder. Could different liturgies, different words, different values, have shaped him differently? Could confronting racism and teaching anti-racism in our churches twenty years ago have prevented this murder?

We don't know. We lament the part we played. We lament the continued sin of racism we continue to tolerate in our churches, community, and nation.

And now, we get to the holy work of prayer, listening, learning, and action. 

Abiding

Well, my dear friends, 2020 is nearly half over! And what a year it has been thus far…I don’t even need to list all that has happened, all that has changed. And we don’t yet know where all of these events are leading us.

So, perhaps you are like me and you feel a need to just stop for a bit, take a deep breath, and lean into the beauty of God’s creation. I like to spend time sitting on my back porch in the summer. Right now it’s breezy…I can see the tree branches blowing a bit…I can hear the birds singing…I can see the splashes of color from the garden baskets my daughter and I planted…I can even hear the sounds of remodeling from the next street over with the old 70’s pop songs playing softly.

And it dawns on me that in the midst of our work and our callings, we need to tend our souls…to abide in God’s presence…to truly rest, remembering who we are and to whom we belong.  Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them, bear much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

There will always be valuable work to do in our vocations as the people of God…but for today, your “work” is to abide, rest, refresh, renew. Find that space whether it is physical or emotional or mental and take a break. Let Jesus tend to you for a bit.

Breathe deeply. Be still. Be well. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you.

Peace,

Pastor Kisten

Our Battle

Last Monday I slapped on some sunscreen, grabbed my lucky baseball cap and my home-made mask, and went to my first peaceful protest that raised awareness of racial injustice in our country. I had no idea what to expect, only that it was a peaceful protest in the suburbs of Woodbury that was youth led. It turned into an event that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Up until this point, all I’ve seen on the News and on social media is how much people are angry, how much the wounds run deep in our country and divide us, and how much people are hurting one another. I was nervous going to this protest, as the News portrayed all the previous escalating into violence, but I felt a pull to participate.

As Andrea and I pulled up with our signs we had made about an hour before to the YMCA where everyone was told to meet, I was thrown back at how many teenagers were there. Kids my own age and some younger, about forty of them, were all standing and waiting for the protest to start. I was shocked at how many showed up, and it made me put into perspective just how many people my own age are standing up and fighting for equality in our country.

As we divided and marched to the two main intersections on the road nearby, we were immediately met with support. The most fulfilling and joyous part of this whole experience was the overwhelming support we got from passing cars, as our intersection didn’t go one minute without hearing a honk or seeing a thumbs up from a passing car. Two different people, not connected or knowing any of the protesters, went and got water for all of us. And the best moment by far for me was when a little boy, not over the age of six, gave me a thumbs up and a big smile from his carseat in the back of a minivan. The overwhelming support and love that was shared in the two hours we protested was nothing less than breathtaking. 

In just those two hours, I saw unity in our divided country. That’s not to say I didn’t see the occasional disapproving glare, thumbs down, or even the middle finger as people exercised their 1st Amendment rights as they drove past. But those few and fleeting moments cannot compare to the overwhelming support we reserved. People of many backgrounds came together and lifted us up. 

 

Like any kid with a tendency to slip into the world of imagination, I often dreamed of going into battle fighting with a sword and shield as many of my fictional heroes did. But this battle was not fought with swords or shields, this battle is being fought with cardboard signs. This is a battle that is being fought hand in hand (metaphorically, Covid-19 is still a thing) with our brothers and sisters of different ages and races. Where people are coming together and standing up to the oppression of African Americans by a corrupt police system in our country. This is our battle, and we’re going to win.

Posted by Esther Steinke

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