Pastor Tia’s Devotion for June 17, 2017:
Dear worthy siblings in Christ!
I remember when first coming to the US 1,5 years ago, I wondered about these signs. Black signs with white letters saying, “Black Lives Matter”. I didn’t know anything about the history of this movement, the ignorant European I was. The black sign looked like trouble to me. And I didn’t get it. Why did black lives matter but not all the other lives? What about me? Or at least what about other marginalized people? I remember having a conversation with a friend early in my days in California, stating: “You know, all lives matter just makes so much more sense.” My friend nodded.
Fast forward to June 2020. There is a BackLivesMatter sign in our front yard. And one in our kitchen window. Only visible to our old neighbor and his son. Whatever, it’s there. Did I just float with the wind?
Well, here is what I have come to understand. And what has helped me to learn that. Part of it has to do with the prodigal son. We all know the story. 2 sons, one leaves home, one stays faithfully with his daddy. One loses all his money, becomes homeless and desperate, suffers from hunger and cold and decides to return to his father’s house as a farm laborer. The other has always helped his dad, has never had to spare anything, was able to save up his share and is looking forward to a bright future. 2 brothers, 2 stories, 2 futures.
When the prodigal son returns home, the father throws a welcome party, giving the best he has “for this son of mine was dead and is alive again” (Luke 15:24). #LostSonsLifeMatters.
Well, the older brother is not amused at all. He becomes angry, refuses to go and stamps with his feet like a 3-year-old who didn’t get exactly the ice-cream flavor in exactly the ice-cream cone with exactly the right colored spoon … (you get the idea). And when his father tries to calm him down he is outraged over such an injustice. “My life matters, too. All lives matter. And now it’s all about this one son of yours?”
Dad listens and listens and listens. And at one point he just tells him: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (Luke 15,31) Meaning: You are already privileged, you always were sound and safe. But right now, it’s not about you. It’s about your brother “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life”. (Luke 15,32) Your brother’s life was at risk until seconds ago. Now, it’s not anymore because we deliberately took action to see him and welcome him. Now, his lfe doesn’t only matter (just like yours already did). That’s the pure minimum. Now his life is worthy, beloved and needed.
Of course, there are tons of differences between the BlackLivesMatter movement and the prodigal son. Obviously. Like Black people weren’t born privileged in the first place and chose to run away from the father’s safe place. Like it’s not about an individual choice to end up as a no-paid laborer. The prodigal son does not capture any systemic racism, obviously. Yet, it captures our, the elder son’s reaction, perfectly well. What about us? What about all lives? Don’t I matter?
We do. And we always did. That’s why it’s time to stand up for the lives who are at stake. Calling out the obvious. Until one day everyone gets it, that Black Lives Matter. And then, we can happily write “All Lives Matter” again or just nothing, because then we will all know. And there won’t be any more brothers and sisters who are dead and others we will have to protect. It will be great. It’s still a long way. Let’s get going. Today, June 17 is a good start. In remembrance of the nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston who were shot by a 21-year-old, self-confessing white supremacist after their bible study. Their Black lives didn’t matter to him at all. Let’s show people like him, that we disagree. #ProdigalSonsLifeMatters #BlackLivesMatter.
Yours in Christ, Pr Tia