This afternoon, I was asked to share a reflection with ELCA Mission Developer Boot Camp participants, as the Congregational Vitality Team followed the Holy Spirit’s urging to suspend its regular agenda and talk about what was on people’s hearts and minds. I shared the following from how I am feeling today:
In 1964, Civil Rights Leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, “All my life I’ve been sick and tired,” “Now,” she said, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Today, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I am sick and tired of watching Black women and men die because of their Black skin. I’m sick and tired of watching videos like that of George Floyd, where for 9 minutes, he had a knee to his neck, where the full weight of grown men crushed his body in the street.
I am sick and tired of the white people who use police as a weapon when they don’t get their way. I am sick and tired of the police officers who choose to prove they are a weapon against Black bodies.
I am sick and tired of people rediscovering racism every time a hashtag or murderous video gets enough social media attention.
I am sick and tired of respectability advocacy. Let’s face it, the reason the Amy Cooper video got as much attention as it did was because there was a dog being visibly abused in the video. If there had not been, would it have gotten as much attention? And, then, soon after we get credible credentials on Christian Copper: Harvard graduate, bird watcher, former Marvel Comics editor, member of the board of directors for the New York City chapter of the Audubon Society. I’m sick and tired of someone having to be respectable to white standards to be worthy of attention or justice.
I am sick and tired of Black women being erased from the story. The silence around Breonna Taylor’s murder in her bed in Kentucky is deafening.
I am sick and tired of the language distinctions around who is a protestor and who is a rioter. We have watched for weeks as armed white people entered state capitol buildings. For days on end, they were not met with tear gas or the national guard. But, within hours, the people in Minneapolis calling for life and justice, were greeted in this way.
I am sick and tired of people thinking people of color should be surprised that Amy Cooper is a liberal. Liberal people have been complicit in racism since forever. We experience it daily in the workplace, church, and world. We’re not surprised but we are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I am sick and tired of Pentecost celebrations that celebrate language but do not share struggle.
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability…” – Acts 2:1-5
We all know this Pentecost text and we also know the story of the new church that follows. We know the Holy Spirit showed up, changing the lives of the people in the room. The winds of change stirred the people in the room that day but it did not just stir them to stay where they were, among themselves. It blew them out into the world around them.
What happens when the Spirit moves and we are able to hear the language of people around us? The Holy Spirit is with us today, still burning like a hot flame and blowing like wind, opening our ears to hear and understand the people around us.
What has happened in the six years in between when we heard Eric Garner say he couldn’t breathe and when we heard George Floyd say the same this week?
What’s the use of hearing each other’s language if it does not change us?
It’s been almost 56 years since Fannie Lou Hamer declared she was sick and tired of being sick and tired and we are still sick and tired of being sick and tired today.
Hear the cries of your siblings this Pentecost and let it blow you in to new ways of being church for the betterment of God’s children.
What would happen if even more we started really hearing and understanding the language spoken by our neighbor –the language of our lived experiences? The Holy Spirit is blowing among us, sparking a fire within us, sending us out, opening our ears to hear the voices that go unheard among us, inviting us to move beyond hearing and understanding to action – to be the hands and voice and feet of God in the community. To share the story of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit takes what Jesus says and brings it to life through us. The Holy Spirit comes that we might have a word to speak and life to give a broken world. The Holy Spirit comes that we might boldly proclaim the goodness of God in the hardest of times.
As you go out into the unique places God sends you, may the passion of peace ignite a fire in you. May the winds of joy lift you off your feet. May the passion of unity light you into action. May the winds of love blow through your communities. May the fire of the Holy Spirit ignite you to speak life to a broken world. May the winds of the Holy Spirit lead you to break down boundaries that divide.
God of wind and fire, embolden us this day to receive your power through your word. Give us strength and courage to proclaim your love as a call for justice for those who are dying to receive it. Amen.
–Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney