As we enter into patriotic reflections this weekend, it is good to remember that there are three things that we cannot change; the past, the truth, and other people. The church and her people need to be involved with social change. This involves honoring the past, speaking truth, allowing change to begin within our own walls, and then reaching out to be change agents. The AME Zion church has walked this path. President Obama’s eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, one of the Charleston martyrs, contains some lines that are helpful and inspiring:
When Clementa Pinckney entered a room, it was like the future arrived…
[The state senate district that he served was] one of the most neglected in America. A place still wracked by poverty and inadequate schools; a place where children can still go hungry and the sick can go without treatment. A place that needed somebody like Clem.
His calls for greater equity were too often unheeded, the votes he cast were sometimes lonely.
“Our calling,” Clem once said, “is not just within the walls of the congregation, but…the life and community in which our congregation resides.”
Christian faith demands deeds and not just words; that the “sweet hour of prayer” actually lasts the whole week long.
To put our faith in action is more than individual salvation, it’s about our collective salvation; that to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless is not just a call for isolated charity but the imperative of a just society.
[God’s grace] has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves.
For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.
[In America,] we have a deep appreciation of history – we haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.