By the Rev. Kay C. Barckley | Photo by Faith Action Network
“…in peace and justice Christ brings Shalom. So when we’re living the ways of Jesus, we are God’s Shalom…”
-From “Song of Shalom”, Elise Eslinger, Upper Room Worship Book
2006 Upper Room Books
When the persistent and amazing Spirit of God, weaves her way through our call, our life’s journey and experience, it is difficult to ignore. Such was the place in which I found myself a week ago Sunday.
As a beloved child of God, I strive to live the vows my parents pledged on my behalf, “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” Called and ordained as a Deacon to Word, Service, Compassion and Justice to live as a bridge between the church and the world, is a daily journey of being born anew, of metanoia and transformation of the heart. Along the way I discovered that my call is deeply woven into my DNA – my Great Great Great Grandfather’s life was grounded in his faith, justice and compassion, even risking potential loss of his life and in the end his country (Ireland) to witness on behalf of the oppression of the Irish in the 1700’s.
Sunday’s transformative Spirit-weaving of strands from the “Song of Shalom” verse, an announcement and sermon, following the violence in Charlottesville, propelled me, with an irresistible call – in spite of my fear – into a counter-protest march to a White Supremacy Rally through the streets of downtown Seattle along with 1000 people. A call to admit and begin to break the bond of my complicity in racism and white privilege… A call to, as Bishop Bruce Ough stated, “…to turn our thin words into thick action”… A call to pray with my feet.
Under a banner of “Love Wins”, linked arm in arm, I along with other faith leaders and siblings lived our banner’s title as we marched and sang songs of freedom, love, resistance and light through the streets. Standing on holy ground at an intersection blocked by police – between most of the counter-protestors and police – our prayerful singing presence seemed to serve as a bridge – bringing peace into the existing tension and frustration-filled space. We became a visible sign of compassionate resistance, God’s love incarnate and of God’s Shalom.
In the midst of the call, connectedness and resoluteness I felt that day, I also felt empowered – we were not alone in our marching…I could hear the footsteps, the songs, the voices of all who have marched throughout generations – I could see the dust and smoke from the violence which was endured – and could feel the pain and grief of lives lost… for justice, equality, and standing against racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and hatred in any form directed at God’s children. This holy march continues…step by step…action by action…enfolded in prayer and empowered by our justice-seeking, Peace-bearing and love-embracing God, until God’s Shalom and Beloved Community are realized for all.
I pray that I/we continue “living the ways of Jesus”, becoming God’s Shalom.
“You must be born anew”, says Jesus. It is the coming forth again of what is deepest in us. It is the rebirthing of God.” (P. Newell, in The Rebirthing of God, Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings)
The Rev. Kay Barckley serves as a Deacon at Seattle: University Temple United Methodist Church.