January 16, 2022
Pastor, scholar and university professor the Rev. Dr. Cornel West is often quoted as reminding Christians that “justice is love in the public square.” For me, this declaration is an echo of Micah 6:8, which commands the believer that God requires us to DO justice as an action word in all our interactions. Christians, and more particularly Presbyterians, are fundamentally called into a place of love and justice because of our belief in God. These ideals are consistent and constant themes throughout Scripture. From Genesis, where God calls us to be good stewards over Creation, to the New Testament proclamation to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible is clear that it is imperative to recognize that all humanity is valuable and created in the precious image of a loving just God. Therefore, to assert that Black Lives Matter is to affirm this decree as truth.
Love and justice are the overarching themes that birth and continually propel the message that Black lives matter. And yes, all lives do matter. However, all lives cannot matter unless Black lives matter, too. The traumatic history of our nation and our church has not always walked in this assertion. Daily we are reminded that there is a need to proclaim that Black lives do matter. This sentiment is more than a hashtag that ebbs and flows in popularity in the media. It is about a moral value that upholds the humanity of Black people and their inalienable right to receive fair and just treatment without fear of violence, harm or unjust murder. From chattel slavery to Jim Crow to modern-day systemic racism, this sin is a foundational part of our nation. Furthermore, throughout history the church has also been complicit and responsible for participation and perpetuation of racism, bigotry and systemic harm to people of color and marginalized people. Presbyterians are not exempt as we have also been a part of this persistent and ever-present problem like so many other Christians.
Nevertheless, as we continually live into the Matthew 25 vision, we are given the opportunity to be a part of the solution. One of the primary tenants of the PC(USA) Matthew 25 vision is to work toward the dismantling of structural racism, heteropatriarchy and sexism. To acknowledge that Black lives, African lives, African American lives, Afro-Latino lives, and all Black and Brown marginalized lives matter means we take a faithful stand against racism and all its sinful evil ways. In the work of asserting the Matthew 25 principle of dismantling structural racism, we must first admit it exists, even within the church. Secondly, we must do whatever is necessary to bring about justice. Finally, we are tasked with the mandate of doing justice and walking in love in a way that reflects the God we serve. As God is love and justice is love in public, then to do the work of proclaiming Black Lives Matter means we as Presbyterians are embodying the role of conduits of the love of a just God to all people. For this is the work of the church, the call of every Christian, and the responsibility of all Presbyterians.
Rev. Shanea D. Leonard; coordinator for Gender & Racial Justice; Compassion, Peace & Justice; Presbyterian Mission Agency
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, January 16, 2022, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
First Reading Isaiah 62:1-5
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Gospel John 2:1-11
Today’s Focus: Presbyterians Affirm Black Lives Matter
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Sara Hayden, Associate, Apprenticeships & Residencies, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Aminah Hazelwood, Associate, Marketing & Sales, Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program
Let us pray
Merciful God, help us to live into the call to be the purveyors of justice and the embodiment of your love in the world. We pray for those who are marginalized because of the sin of racism. We lift those who are discriminated against by systems of bigotry. And we speak freedom over those oppressed by unjust systems. Thank you, Lord, that you are a God who loves, protects and provides. Now please help those who proclaim to follow you, to embody your spirit even more. Amen.