June 26, 2018 @ 05:10 pm by Jacqui Lewis
My rabbi, Jesus, once encouraged his crestfallen followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Jesus, who has come to be known as Christ, spoke these words to a grieving people, to an oppressed people, to a people occupied by the Roman Empire which maintained a so-called “peace” with violence and the blatant disregard for brown bodies that were not Roman citizens.
Jesus, a Jew himself, told his followers to welcome the strangers and the foreigners, because they were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 21:22) The God of Jesus is the God of Abraham and is the God of Muhammad, peace be upon him. Muslims, Christians, and Jews pray to the same God.
So many of us are deeply mourning today’s Supreme Court decision. And, as our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer soul-death at the hands of the highest court in our land, as the racist and xenophobic policies of this administration are upheld, and therefore sanctioned, I also feel grief and outrage. I feel as though the Supreme Court has kicked us in the stomach. And so, I can only imagine the waves of grief washing over Muslim Americans today. Faithful. Gifted. Citizens. Our neighbors. Our colleagues. Our teachers, police, veterans, physicians.
We must be clear; these policies are part of a systematic, unrelenting, pernicious campaign to strive to make America white. Cruelty at our southern borders; caging human beings in urban jails and in detention centers; the state-sanctioned murders of Black and Brown men, women, and children; and banning Muslims—all of this, filled with hate and derision, must be named for what it is, and fought with all of the revolutionary love we can mobilize.
As my beloved friend Ruby Sales says, "we must name this evil programme, religious and ethnic cleansing."
We have been here before; we know what this hatred looks and smells like. We know the deep pathology of the haters. We know their hatred brings soul death to our friends and families. And we know this hatred also rots the heart of the perpetrator.
What, then, do we do to bless the mourning ones, to comfort them?
We must comfort our Muslim and Sikh friends and colleagues today, as they mourn. Gather with them in solidarity.
My friend Linda Sarsour, a co-founder of the Women’s March and a Muslim, shared that she was “sitting in her daughter's high school graduation this morning when she got the news that SCOTUS has moved to uphold the racist, immoral Muslim Ban. History repeats itself and the Supreme Court was wrong today like they were wrong in Korematsu when the court permitted incarceration of thousands of people based on their Japanese ancestry. Just because the Supreme decides something is legal, does not make it just or moral. WE CANNOT BE SILENT.” Don't be silent. Speak up!
We must allow our own hearts to feel the sorrow and disappointment in a nation governed by fear and hatred; let our grief propel us into action. We must support Muslim grassroots organizations, like MPower Change and Cair Michigan.
We must also connect the dots between these SCOTUS decisions, and the ways the decisions are eroding human rights. We must take our dissatisfaction to the polls, voting out the haters, and electing officials who share the ways we value each human life. Our grief is prophetic; we know that even as we mourn, even in our frustration, we must never forget the unbelievable power we have when good people of moral courage bind our hearts and wills together to make America free, really free, at last.
Blessings to you, my Muslim friends, colleagues, and family. Peace to you. Assalamu ‘Alaikum.
And to all of us, let’s DO this! Let’s grieve, let’s act, let’s make America free.
The Rev. Dr. Jacqui J. Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church in Manhattan and is an Auburn Senior Fellow.
June 22, 2018 @ 05:00 pm by Jacqui Lewis
There once was a little boy named Yeshua. He was born to a woman named Miriam and a man named Yusef. When the child was young, the man who was king, Herod, decided he needed to kill all of the male children under the age of two. Miriam and Yusef took their child, and helped by strangers along the way, traveled from Judea to Egypt. When this refugee family arrived, they were welcomed. They found shelter and food; they were able to stay together. Miriam could nurse her baby; Yusef could protect his wife.
That baby grew up, and learned the trade of his father. As an adult, he became an itinerant rabbi, and went around the countryside preaching, healing and feeding people. He tried to explain to them what the Kingdom of God was like. He said if they wanted to understand this Kingdom, they would have to become like a child. In fact, he invited the children to come and be with him, and chastised those who would keep them away.
That’s Jesus, people. That’s the one who we Christians say is our mentor, our leader, our rabbi. That is the one we say is our Christ, anointed to bring good news to the poor, to preach liberty to the captives, to bring sight to the blind. Jesus taught his followers that when we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison, we are visiting Jesus himself. (Matthew 25) "When you've done it to the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you've done it unto me," he said. When we serve the “least of these,” we are serving God.
Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Kristjen Nielsen, and all you government leaders who claim to be Christian: Shame on you for terrorizing families this way. Shame on you, immigrants that you are, for treating Black and Brown bodies as though they are less than human. Shame on you for your manifest destiny, white nationalist, border-closing, poverty-increasing policies that you enact while simultaneously claiming allegiance to the poor, itinerant preacher who was once a homeless baby, and then a refugee in a strange land.
I call on you to repent. I call on you to ask forgiveness, and to cease and desist from these abominable policies. I call on you to open your blind eyes and your too-small hearts to the lives of the human beings—children, mothers, fathers, aunties and uncles—who happen to be immigrants, who you are treating like scum. I call on you to stop lying and to acknowledge that neither your behavior or these policies are blessed by God.
And you, fellow Americans of all faiths and no faith, I am calling on you to have a zero-tolerance personal policy on hatred and bigotry. I am calling on you to have the moral courage to insist on #RevolutionaryLove as action to repudiate these wrongs. Those families belong to God. Those crying children? They are the voices of God. Those anguished parents? They are the body of God. Suffering, weeping, needing liberation. We must do something about this, and we must do it now.It is our moral responsibility to tell our elected officials that Families Belong Together. Join me in following these steps offered by the NAACP to make a phone call, send an email, or write a letter to both of your senators. We need to foster a nation where strangers are welcomed and the most vulnerable—all children—are able to stay with their families.
People are heading to the streets this Saturday, June 23 in Washington DC to protest; I’ll be there to join the culmination of the Poor People’s Campaign at the National Mall as we come together to demand #FamiliesBelongTogether. Find a rideshare here to join us in DC. You can also watch the livestream online at the Poor People's Campaign website.
It is our moral call to treat each person at the border as though they are the body of God.
June 8, 2018 @ 03:45 pm by Jacqui Lewis
Dear Revolutionary Lovers:
I always look forward to the invitation I get from Rob Stephens to march for justice. Check out this email, that let's you know all of the things we are doing to make the world a better place. And there are some great pictures of things we have done.
If you want to stay connected to the ways we are moving for justice, or if you want to join our community of radical welcome and love, click here! We'd love to have you.
Toward the Revolution,
P.S. Here is a video I made with GLAAD about what I am calling "Cake-Gate." We must be vigilant as our civil rights erode right before our eyes.
About This Blog
Preparing ethical leaders for a just society. Posts by Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister.