Why Do You Stand Looking Up to Heaven?

This Feast of the Ascension comes one day after the second death anniversary of George Floyd, a murder which showed such flagrant disregard for Floyd’s life as a black man that it shook up the world.   As I write this we are reeling with the news of another mass shooting murdering elementary students while our hearts are broken after the killing of ten black people shopping for groceries in Buffalo, New York, and murders of churchgoers in California. 

Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? 

I have been looking toward heaven and asking God why we humans seek out differences between one another more than similarities and why we seem to miss our common humanity, dehumanizing others for their skin color, national background or language.   Then there is our tendency to resort to violence, the ready availability of powerful firearms and the ease with which we allow ourselves to be afraid.   

Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? 

God loves us, each and every one, those who kill and maim and those murdered.  Maybe we look to heaven because this depth of love is so confusing.  How can it be?  Yet, we are called to pray for both enemy and friend as each one is our neighbor.   I look to heaven for strength and grace that my heart may be as open, generous and loving as that of Jesus Christ.  

Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? 

Now it is time to look back toward earth and to all those neighbors and the rest of creation.  I have experienced the love and grace of Jesus Christ.  My eyes have been opened to see my neighbors as fully human.  I have promised to respect the dignity of every human being, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, and to strive for justice and peace.  These are our baptismal promises.  Now it’s time to get on with it, to step up boldly, to speak up and act for change.   

Time for the Talk

As the mother of mixed race children, I have had the talk about racism.  My husband and I have told our children how to behave if they are stopped by the police.  We comforted them and restored confidence in themselves after they have been treated badly due to the color of their skin.   They in turn have helped me, a white woman, have deep, painful, honest conversations about race and systems of privilege. We have explored the stories of people whose perspectives one rarely sees.  Now may all white children have these honest, heart-opening talks with their families.

Time for Change

“Where’d he get the gun?,” asked my young son after one of the many mass shootings.  Now this son is over thirty and the shootings continue.  Payson of Conklin was determined perfectly fine to purchase and own assault weapons and body armor.   It is hard to control people or to know what they will do.  Maybe it is time to focus on the guns and to restore a world I knew when guns were for hunting or target practice, not for killing other people.  I would like to feel safe going about my business and most importantly want children not to feel afraid going to school, the grocery, church or the movies.  Yet they do feel afraid and have reason to. 

Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? 

Let us no longer be silent.  Let us turn our prayers to guide us in actions that fulfill our baptismal promises.  Jesus gave us work to do and continues to urge us forward.  Jesus is within us and teaches us.  We are the ones now to act, to listen, and to truly see the world around us.  Let us look at our neighbors, our lives and our own privileges and consider if we can give up the right to own any gun we want, give up thinking white means better and in charge, so that children, Black people, and all people can go about their lives without fear and with respect and opportunities to live fully.   

With every blessing, 

Mother Elizabeth