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A Lament

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Charleston, South Carolina. (Creative Commons License)
The steeple of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Charleston, South Carolina. (Creative Commons License)

Posted: 6/18/15 at 4:35pm. Article by Joe Kendrick

Observing the chaos of the aftermath of World War I, WB Yeats wrote the poem “Second Coming”:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

I imagine Yeats witnessing the hopelessness as England recovers from the strategic German bombings. I sense the fear the citizens felt as they put London back together. There is lament in his words.

And his words transcend the time of post WWI England and speak as loud a hundred years later: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

I connected to his words, deeper than I have before, as the news of the murders at a historic black church in Charleston, SC began to spread across my homepage.

I offer no attempts to explain the hate others have. I offer no explanations of how we continue to turn to violence and justify violence against one another. I simply lament and repent.

I know my God observes these horrific acts, weeping, hearing the cries of the victims as they plead for the gunman to stop. I know my God hear the cries of those in mourning as they wrestle with this senseless injustice: “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).

I know my God hears the cries of the families as the question where God is. I know my God hears the cries of a family wondering how their child could be capable of such horrific acts. I know my God hears me as I cry, “The falcon cannot hear the falconer, things fall apart. The center cannot hold.”

I lament the deaths of the innocent. I repent of my own inaction. I mourn my own participation in the vicious cycles of violence and hate.

I turn to my scriptures and I read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10).

I read the ethics of my Lord and I recommit myself to justice and ethics of the God Movement. I seek forgiveness for when I am silent. I seek to use my power, given by society, to help liberate those entrapped by hate and ignorance.

Rev-Joe-Kendrick-180x180Rev. Joe Kendrick is the Pastor at Black Creek Baptist Church, Mechanicsville. Joe is a graduate of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond and is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Ministry in Justice and Peacebuilding at BTSR. Read more about him here.

He originally published this blogpost on his blog.