Faith in a Christ Who Understood In His Own Body Oppression & Suffering

Lancaster BLMA Call to Worship written by Nick Peterson (photo: far right) for today’s service at Capitol Presbyterian of Harrisburg, PA:

The Lord be with you.

A year ago today, Michael Brown, Jr., an 18-year-old recent high school graduate while unarmed was shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson in Fergson, MO. His death and others like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, and Oscar Grant sparked a national movement aimed at bringing awareness to racialized police violence and excessive use of force.

People have joined in cities all across the country, and even the world proclaiming Black Lives Matter. This affirmation has been met with opposition and misunderstanding. We live in a context where it is uncomfortable to affirm Black lives. And so we circumvent acknowledging Black life by claiming ALL lives matter.

Yet the history of Black people and the history of native people and women – has readily shown us that All does not include them. The rights that people of color have obtained have come as amendments to the very founding documents that used the inclusive language of “all and we”.

In spite of this long legacy of racism and white supremacy – Lynching, police brutality, and Jim Crow – our ancestors found faith: faith in a Christ who understood in his own body oppression and suffering. As we grapple with the harsh realities facing our children, our families, and our communities, we can be empowered by remembering the Jesus our fore-parents called on. The Jesus who knows all aobut trouble: The Jesus whose own body was battered and bruised: The Jesus who died a shameful and humiliating death on Calvary. And the Jesus, who in spite of it all rose on the 3rd day with all power in his hands.

Sisters and brothers, friends and family – we gather this morning to call on that God who has been our help in ages past and is yet our hope in years to come.
I invite you as you are able to rise in body and Spirit for our call to worship.

Death and hell have visited our people. Suffering and pain trace our history far and wide.

But God!

Justice denied and delayed by the rulers of this earth. Systems of oppression and exploitation rampant and everywhere

But God!

Children dying at the hands of each other and police. Babies aborted before they ever breathe. Schools that struggle to educate and prisons that are small cities.

But God!

In the face of death and hell, God you have sustained our hope and our faith. Our trust is in you. Our help comes from you!

Let us pray:

God where can we go from your Spirit, and where can we flee from your presence, even when our bed is in the pits, you are there. Grant us the faith to see through the pain, through the suffering, and through the heartache, your promise of Love and Life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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