Anyone need some hope?
Have you ever read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? To help folks feel less isolated, our priest, Father Patrick’s been reading these books online for the Christ Church family. On the other hand, sometimes after watching the news, I feel trapped in Narnia, where the White Witch reigns, and it’s “always winter, never Christmas.” Narnia, as described in, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, remains a hopeless place until word comes that, “Aslan is on the move.”
So why write about Narnia and Aslan, the lion, at a time like this? Odd, perhaps, but in the midst of a global pandemic, the ongoing protests and yesterday’s memorial service in Minneapolis for George Floyd, I believe Aslan’s on the move. I’ve sensed Jesus, the Lion of Judah, weeping and serving on front lines with first responders around the world. And more recently, marching for justice, kneeling in streets, refusing to shut up and go away. As Van Jones, CNN commentator said, “Hurt people holler.”
Then, as a grandmother, I’m filled with hope as I’ve watched young people, mine included, join another history altering moment, a just movement. All folks may not know or care, but the masked Jesus walks with them. This is not the gentle, white Jesus but the black and every hued one. He understands the times. Jesus was, ” despised, rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with bitterest grief.”(Isaiah 53:3NLT)
All of God’s children, some even in uniform, have knelt beside or walked with the protesters and the weeping Jesus. But, he’s also the Jesus filled with righteous anger, the One who overturned tables, and tossed out folks who made evil purposes of the temple, a sacred space. He shouted,”My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.” (Matthew 21:13 in the Message)
Over two thousand years ago, God’s Aslan, hung on a cross, nails driven into his hands and feet. Hatred’s exclamation points! Jesus struggled to breathe. He used some of his last breath to forgive the unforgivable, to cry out to his Papa, his Mama and welcome the crook on the cross beside him to join him in a better place. But the story didn’t end with evil carving a notch in its ever expanding belt, while shouting, “Gotcha!” Jesus, like Aslan, returned and is on the move.
So what about yesterday’s service for George Floyd? It spoke to me from familiar passages like Psalm 27, Proverbs 13 and songs like Amazing Grace. The Rev. Al Sharpton grabbed a hold of Ecclesiastes 3:1 and shook it for all it’s worth. His words still speak to this old white woman. “It’s past time for you to get your knee off our necks!” And I told myself today, “it’s the neck of anybody you want to keep a nobody. Think on it, Jan.”
The service taught through the act of standing for almost nine minutes in agonizing solidarity with and memory of one man’s final moments on this earth. My black brothers and sisters keep teaching me, when I watch and listen. I felt their love for their families. I cried with them, imagining their child is my child. Then, I marveled at their grace. I heard their pleas for justice. They’ve lost faith in our justice system, because it was ours, not theirs. But they haven’t lost faith in God. Rev. Sharpton reminded all of us, “There’s a God who sits on high but looks down low. And I don’t care who’s in the White House, there’s another House!” Their gritty faith, resilient strength to rise up and go on humble me.
After the service, Van Jones was asked to sum up what he saw and heard. He replied,” We love our families. We’re resilient and no one can steal our joy. I’ve watched millions of white folks join this protest. That’s hopeful. Their hearts are breaking too. If I had to take our black theology down to two words they’d be, Hallelujah, anyhow!”
That’s not natural. That’s supernatural and a lesson to the rest of us to listen and learn. And maybe, if we put our ears to the ground, we just might hear the Lion of Judah beginning to roar.
“Aslan is on the move.”
But remember, “He’s not safe but he is good.”
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