Preparing for Worship – Timothy Peoples, senior pastor.
It is said that during the march in Selma, the people chanted “We shall overcome” as they walked the rough streets. The Jews in the group chanted the same, but in Hebrew. As I read that part of the story, it made me think, “Maybe it is time for us to hear, learn and speak a different language.”
Allan Boesak, the South African theologian who labored alongside Desmond Tutu and others to confront racism, materialism and militarism in South Africa, suggests we as a prophetic people should not be afraid to speak a different language regarding the suffering of humanity.
Boesak writes, “We are in no position to offer comfort, compassion and justice to a suffering, bleeding humanity overwhelmed by a petrifying indifference, if we do not believe that there is good news they should hear. And we cannot speak a language of hope and resilience, of resistance and redemption, if we do not unlearn the language of imperial compliance: of domination and subjugation, of carelessness and indifference, of diplomatic evasion.”
Y’all, no longer can we be afraid to speak. To speak out against the wrongs happening around us. To call out what is deeply systemic, what is deliberately built into systems of oppression, domination and dehumanization.
Our language must be courageous, liberating, transformative, healing and inclusive. A language that does not just satisfy our own needs and desires but goes beyond ourselves and empowers the suffering, the weak and the vulnerable, the dehumanized and the demonized, the outcasts and the excluded.
When we spend time unlearning the language of imperial compliance, we make a space for the voices that often go unheard — for the voices of those who have already learned the importance of a different, empowering language — for all voices. On this Pentecost, may we open our hearts not only to the “languages” we know, but others that are crying out suggesting a new way to move forward led by the Holy Spirit.