Tuesday, June 23, 2015

He Will Overcome

I've been thinking about some of my experiences attending African-American churches in my college days, as very young, very shy and very white woman.  Because of where my university was located, if I was going to attend a neighborhood church,  it would not be like the churches I grew up in.  I was always warmly welcomed and well received and I'm glad for that.  I learned and grew from my experiences and eventually settled on a Mennonite church within walking distance that was accustomed to students from my college.  

It was during those college years, I was invited to see a series of large, dramatic  murals painted on the walls of what was once a privileged white church that changed along with the neighborhood.  The woman that gave us a tour of the murals was as proud as I was shocked.  "Shock and awe" along with a loss for words would probably describe me then.  The paintings depicted "stations" of the Civil Rights Movement and the parallels endured by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. I just googled the church and the murals are still there.  The anger expressed toward white oppressors, the violent depictions by one of the artists disturbs me yet.  

I listened tonight to Pete Seeger's version of "We Shall Overcome" tonight that anthem of the Civil Rights Movement and realized a fundamental error in its message.  We shall not overcome this side of eternity of all societal ills, although we should pursue change when it is within our power to do so.  Overcoming is not within our power, however, it is only through the power of Christ.  I understand that some of the original words from that song are this: 
I'll Overcome someday, I'll be all right / I'll wear the cross, I'll Wear the Crown / I'll be like him, I'll Sing My Song Someday".

My prayers are still with the Mother Emanuel Church in Boston.  They welcomed their killer with the same love showed so often to me when I was his age.  The martyrs of that massacre have truly overcome.  The rest of us will continue on in the power of God's love and might. 

"All Ye Tenderhearted" - Daniel Martin Moore

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