This Sunday, June 14, we will have a unique and important liturgy. June 17th was determined to be a special feast day in the ELCA this past August. This feast day is called Emanuel Nine, Martyrs, 2015. Here is a brief description to offer history on the feast day:
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 to 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.
The death of George Floyd, and the subsequent events in Minneapolis and around the world, have opened up a dialog in many communities and hearts. The conversation and related actions are very important to the heart of both Christianity and our country. Theologically, the conversation centers around systems that have put different values on lives based on race (or other categories). As baptized children of God, we reject the notion that God values people differently based on various categories. Instead, we are called to celebrate differences, and see these gifts as God’s creative, diverse gift to us all.
The conversation on Sunday is the start of a faithful, prolonged, engagement that is happening. This includes today’s worship, book studies, community courageous conversations, and engagement with a growing set of resources.
This Sunday, worship will begin with this litany. I wanted to share it with you so you could familiarize yourself with these honest words before we shared together in this dialog.
Litany for June 14, 2020
Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound.
Let us not rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction.
Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment.
Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss.
Let us not rush past the loss of this mother’s child, this father’s child … someone’s beloved son.
Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.
Let us not value a false peace over a righteous justice.
Let us not be afraid to sit with the ugliness, the messiness, and the pain that is life in community together.
Let us not offer clichés to the grieving, those whose hearts are being torn asunder.
Let us mourn black and brown men and women, those killed extrajudicially every 28 hours.
Let us lament the loss of a teenager, dead at the hands of a police officer who described him as a demon.
Let us weep at a criminal justice system, which is neither blind nor just.
Let us call for the mourning men and the wailing women, those willing to rend their garments of privilege and ease, and sit in the ashes of this nation’s original sin.
Let us be silent when we don’t know what to say.
Let us be humble and listen to the pain, rage and grief pouring from the lips of our neighbors and friends.
Let us decrease, so that our brothers and sisters who live on the underside of history may increase.
Let us pray with our eyes open and our feet firmly planted on the ground.
Let us listen to the shattering glass and let us smell the purifying fires, for it is the language of the unheard.
God, in your mercy …
Show me my own complicity in injustice.
Convict me for my indifference.
Forgive me when I have remained silent.
Equip me with a zeal for righteousness.
ALL: Never let me grow accustomed or acclimated to unrighteousness.
There is so much to say and engage in together. For now, I leave this as a start. I hope you will join us for worship on Sunday morning at 9:30 am as we seek to journey together faithfully.
Pastor Chad Kohlmeyer