I’m looking at the ocean. It’s showing me the wind on the water. It’s showing me a bottle-green-blue that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It’s the same ocean I’ve watched many times, but it’s a new ocean too.
What it shows me more than anything is that it’s big. Of course, I know that, but still I discover it again and again.
We live in a big world. It’s God’s world and it’s our world. We influence its beauty and its blemishes. Of course, I know that, but still I discover it again and again.
A week ago, one of our neighbors, First Parish Unitarian Universalist, had its “Black Lives Matter” banner vandalized. The word, ‘black’ was painted over with white paint and sign’s frame was bent. I was amazed and dismayed that such a thing happened here in Arlington.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Like the ocean, bigotry is big. It’s present not only in backwaters of ignorance; it exists in along shores that by all demographic measures are well-educated.
What did not surprise me is that this act was done at night, under cover of darkness. What does not surprise me is that the perpetrators of this ugliness are cowards: ones who hide who they are in shadow.
What does not surprise me is that First Parish is going to replace the sign. What does not surprise me is that this particular church, and the Church as a whole, is courageous, seeking to know who they are and strive to do the will of the One who dispels shadow.
First Parish has asked its neighbor congregations, including ours, to stand with them as people of faith by putting up our own “Black Lives Matter” banner. This is something I think, feel, and believe we should do for lots of reasons. What do you think, feel and believe?
What would it say to and about PACC if we make a public statement about this issue? What would it say to and about Arlington if we make a public statement about this issue? Heaven knows it’s not the only issue our church, our community, or our culture faces – but it’s the one on our doorsteps today. I’m under no illusion that we will all think, feel, or believe the same thing in the same way, and that’s what makes this a genuine, teachable moment for all of us.
Jesus didn’t shy away from controversy. Indeed, he often invited it, not for its own sake, but for the sake of the good news that God loves the world and the world matters. Black lives matter. It is at the heart of reflecting the image of God.
Jesus adjured his disciples to watch and pray. That’s always his call to those who claim to be his disciples. Watch and pray—for the wisdom and the courage to follow his message, his ministry, and his mission right here and right now.
The Reverend Jill H. Small