Clouds of Despair, Relentless Hope

On my drive back to church this evening, the news on the radio was full of december 009despair. Deaths of unarmed African American men.  Other Grand Jury decisions like this one highlighted below.

Many faith traditions, including my own in the Christian Church, call us all to be “light”. Lights of hope. Lights for justice and peace. Light held amidst the despair. Oftentimes I don’t know how to be such a light in challenging times. Wondering, pondering, what is helpful, what is not. Listening for the new way that might open to true transformative change. The kind of change that needs to begin in me.

december 2014 028It reminds me all the more in seasons like this how much I depend on a community I can pray with, listen with, share my truth with, struggle with together. Communities that can help me discern a way. How grateful I am for church and community leaders who speak to us in challenging, clear ways.  Who help me pay attention, listen, discern and respond.

We are called to be Light. And as we approach the second week of Advent, may the lights of Hope and Peace shine especially bright in our lives, our country, our broken communities this very night. May we be part of sharing, being, bearing the Light that shines out on this dark night, the light that the darkness cannot overcome.

This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate,
And a nova lighting the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome,
Honor and truth were trampled by scorn.
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet Earth,
And by greed and pride the sky is torn –
Yet love still takes the risk of birth.

Madeleine L’Engle

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UCC leaders condemn New York grand jury decision, call for examination of judicial system

UCC leaders condemn New York grand jury decision, call for examination of judicial system

December 4, 2014

A Staten Island grand jury has decided there was not enough evidence to prosecute a white New York police officer whose chokehold on an unarmed black man led to the man’s death, a ruling issued Wednesday, Dec. 4, that drew widespread condemnation and sparked a wave of protests.

The group deliberated for less than a day before deciding not to press charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, in the death of the man, Eric Garner, 43.

In a joint statement, the United Church of Christ National Officers and the Conference Minister of the New York Conference of the UCC express outrage over the grand jury decision and call for a national examination of our judicial system and other institutions “spiritually perverted by racism.” Here is the text of that statement.

december 015

It is an inexplicable travesty that the same words used to express our dismay and anger over last week’s Ferguson verdict are now applicable, verbatim, in New York.

We affirm the anger and grief of all people of good conscience who are committed to justice and peace. We stand in solidarity with all African Americans who continue to live in fear of the ignorant, innate, institutional racism that threatens the lives of young black men, women and children every day. These are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our fathers and mothers, our precious children — our family in Christ.

We pray for nonviolent demonstration and official response to the outrage that is now being experienced and conveyed. Violence is not the path to justice — it is the root of all injustice. Silence in the face of injustice is not an option. We therefore cry out with a loud voice for justice in our land plagued with racism.

We are in agreement with Mayor de Blasio’s statement: “Anyone who believes in the values of this country should feel called to action right now.” As leaders of the United Church of Christ in New York and throughout the nation, we stand in solidarity with those bearing witness through prayer, protest, and vigil. We call for a national examination of our judicial system and other institutions spiritually perverted by racism.

Even under clouds of despair, we affirm the relentless hope that is ours as a people of faith. May this hope empower us to speak boldly and loudly to shed light on the systematic racism that daily threatens our Beloved Community.

We cannot move forward faithfully until there is honest reform to systems that institutionalize and legitimize racist practices.

The Rev. David Gaewski
New York UCC Conference Minister

The Rev. Geoffrey Black
UCC General Minister and President

The Rev. Linda Jaramillo
UCC Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries

The Rev. J. Bennett Guess
UCC Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries

The Rev. James Moos
UCC Executive Minister for Wider Church Ministries

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5 thoughts on “Clouds of Despair, Relentless Hope”

  1. Thanks Peter – we cannot let this moment in time become a temporary headline that fades when new tragedies move to the forefront. This is truly a call to action and spiritual response.


    1. Thanks Liz for writing. Yes, in all the passion and stirring of these days, I keep it all in my hope and prayer for a walking with care, with hope, with and as signs of light,



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