Lift Every Voice

For many, the last several weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions in this country and in our faith communities. We are still trying to navigate the tensions of whether it is safe to reconvene in our buildings and sacred spaces, as COVID-19 seems have an extended stay. We have also paired the global pandemic, with a social crisis in these United States. The last several weeks, we have witnessed the video-captured senseless murders of unarmed black men, we have commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Mother Emmanuel Massacre that occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, while also being enlightened about the long-celebrated holiday of Juneteenth.

All of the non-stop media coverage, the protests, the resounding cries for justice, the riots, the opinions, and blatant ignorance leaves me with the questions; what is the role of The Church in the midst of all of this? Where are the faithful Christ followers, Christ’s disciples, bearing witness to the Hope, but also sounding the clarion call for that which we have been required; “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NRSV).”

As many are feeling ill-equipped to begin to speak up and speak out. Many are expressing frustration because we have been here far too many times before. Many are wanting to do more, but feel inadequate to take the first step. It is hearing these questions, concerns, laments, and curiosities that the lyrics from a familiar poem (turned song) began to ring louder in my ears, the words (Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson):

“Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.”

Friends, while it may seem overwhelming, this is not the time to go silent. This is not the time to allow apathy to overtake the desire for a better outcome and a more faithful future. Now is the time for us, as the collective Body of Christ, to begin lifting our voices. We need to LIFT OUR VOICE to speak against the inappropriate jokes, banter, and racist remarks. We must LIFT OUR VOICE within our communities as we experience the gross disparities within educational systems. It is time to LIFT OUR VOICE in identifying sustainable solutions for food securities. It is imperative to LIFT OUR VOICE in repentance for the ways we have been complicit, bias, and ill-informed. Now is time for us to LIFT OUR VOICE of vulnerability to seek the assistance we need to gain the insights, new learning, and expanded understandings for seeing all persons as God’s sacred beings (I would also suggest do the hard internal work too).

When we, as faithful Christ followers begin to lift our voices for the cause of justice in the name of Jesus Christ, we begin to make a sound that grabs the attention of the world. So that we can be know for our love, heard for our desire for equity, and be seen as a safe haven for all to experience Christ’s Hope. To LIFT OUR VOICE, is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ moves us beyond the pews and the buildings. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ requires us to lend our voices for liberation and devote our service for the freedoms of all!

And just think, the year of 2020 is only halfway over, so as those who calls themselves disciples of Jesus Christ, when it is time to act, are you willing to show up and LIFT YOUR VOICE?

Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving Central District