Today we open Chapter 15 of the Book of Revelation:
I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for through them God’s fury is accomplished.
The word used for fury can also be translated passion is refers to being in that state where you are so worked up emotionally that you are breathing hard.
This is followed by an image of a sea of glass on which are standing those who, "were holding God’s harps, and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb"— the great coming together.
As I watch the news I cannot but reflect on the great plague that has poisoned our country from its birth, the racial divide. It is broader than simple racism.
Don't get me wrong. I have seen racism my whole life. Snide comments made to my mother about time I spent playing at the home of my black neighbors , the wall that divided the colored and white seating areas in the doctor's office, the argument over whether blacks were going to be allowed at my brother's funeral in 1972, are but a few example.
But I can also look back to my senior year of high school 1978 and the following years of college and see that I had more Black friends then that before or since. I fear that in the late 70's/ early 80's race relations reached their zenith. We have now replaced forced segregation with self-segregation.
My church St. Patrick's sits 0.9 miles from Holy Rosary, the black Catholic Church, and they might as well be in different cities, or countries. Worse than the animosity of the 50s and 60s is indifference, the world of us and them in quiet co-existence. There is the oft repeated truism that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America. And we seem to be ok with that.
I had hoped that with the election of President Obama he would speak to this issue in ways that no white president could. I have been disappointed.
When I am not dressed like a priest, I will still from time to time get verbally patted on the head, talked down to as if I am mentally disabled because of my cerebral palsy. People still subtly stare and move away passing on a sidewalk. And I get just a small taste of what black people and black males in particular feel much of the time.
Some of what we are seeing is mere anger, but some is righteous indignation. And we need to admit that we white people don't understand it.
There are those who pretend that racism is a southern thing. We see clearly that this is a lie.
As I write this, I fear that we will talk about race for the next two weeks then Furgeson will blow over and we will go back to detente until the next eruption. We will continue to repeat the cycle.
In the Biblical world the great divide was Jew and gentile. And the Book of revelation presents us with an image of those singing the the song of Moses together with those singing the song of the Lamb. In America it was a two way split, and is fast becoming three-way with Hispanic being the third rail.
As people of faith, can we not do SOMETHING MORE this time? Stop just repeating this pattern of that swings from crisis to indifference. I don't know the answer. But today I call on us all to pray for wisdom. Help us believe that healing is possible. Help us to find the way to be what we have never been—one nation under God.