A Word from Our Pastor 2016 October

All lives will matter when black lives matter.

In the news today — turmoil in Charlotte, NC, and tension in Tulsa, OK, over the deaths of two more African American men at the hands of police: Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher. One of the police officers in Tulsa has been charged with manslaughter, but in Charlotte, the facts are still emerging. I am grateful that these deaths are being made known widely — who knows how many other African American men have died under similar circumstances, but whose deaths were mourned only by a small community. . .and more importantly, without a major outcry for a fair investigation into the circumstances of those deaths. Hopefully, the impact of wide publicity will bring some comfort to their families, and a greater possibility for justice to result.

Just last weekend, our Choir stood in solidarity with “Black Lives Matter.” After much reflection, prayer and discussion, the concern for Black Lives was emphasized in the annual Choir Blast program. We are grateful for our new Choir Director, Toyomi Yoshida, whose prophetic perspective helped us to take a public stand. To take such a stand seems risky, and might upset our audience; perhaps the issue seems too political, when perhaps people come just to enjoy beautiful music.

However, the statement about Black Lives Matter was warmly appreciated by the audiences on Saturday and Sunday. And now, we have to face two more tragedies that exemplify one of the main concerns of Black Lives Matter movement so soon after our decision to act in solidarity. . .To me, this is a clear sign that God is calling us forward.

When I reflect upon the Civil Rights movement I remember that for many people, it was controversial at the time. Many churches hesitated to become involved. Church people, politicians (including President Kennedy) some Black and White folks, all told Martin Luther King, Jr and the other leaders that they were pushing too hard, that they should be more patient, that they shouldn’t demonstrate, but work through the legal system. The laws will change eventually, they were told. Just wait.

The laws did change, and yet it is obvious that that wasn’t enough. Black lives are still at risk on the streets of our cities, at a much higher rate than others. We are at another historic moment: there are more demonstrations, Colin Kopernick and many young athletes are also speaking up by “taking a knee” during the playing of the national anthem. We are being called as Christians who care for the “least, the last, and the lost” as Jesus did, to continue to act with compassion and work for justice. What should be our next step???

–Rev. Naomi