Pastors Letter: March
Words Have Power
Listen to these words from Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” or as the Message Bible renders this verse: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit -- you choose.” I thought about that passage as I focused on the end of this month and the loss of several friends years ago.
Memorial Day is a federal Holiday honoring those men and women who have died serving their country. My friends are not here today in part because of words. Politicians talking about the Domino Theory in South East Asia, or the weapons of mass destruction in the middle East. Those words helped put my friends in areas around the world that cost them their lives.
Let us learn from our history. Words matter especially when they come from our leaders or a leader with a large base of supporters who take seriously everything they say, even when their claims are unsupported by sufficient evidence. I ask myself what did they give their life for, profits, greed, power, or the ego rantings of a maniac?
For most of us, this is not new information; we understand the power of words. But in the current hostile bipartisan climate of our nation, it is especially important that we remember that. We need to, so far as is possible, seek the truth about what we hear and not allow ourselves to be conduits of misinformation or foot soldiers in efforts to weaken the fabric of what holds us together as a nation.
As Christians let us take to heart the words of the prayer given by Retired Navy rear Admiral and Senate chaplain, Barry C. Black gave at the close of the congressional joint session after the insurrection of January 6th.
“Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.
These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.
Lord, you have helped us remember that we need to see in each other a common humanity that reflects your image.
You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign.
Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. Thank you for what you have blessed our lawmakers to accomplish in spirt of threats to liberty.
Bless and keep us. Drive far from us all wrong desire, incline our hearts to do your will and guide our feet on the path of Peace. And God bless America. We pray in your sovereign name. Amen”
Let us truly honor those who gave their lives that they were not given in vain.
Pray for unity,
Altar A. Ego
The Talk and White Privilege
I want to talk to you about White Privilege. I am a living example of that: male, white, and first born. Growing up with my mother ‘s advice: “watch both ways when you cross the street ” “don’t talk to strangers”. And then when my father had “The Talk” (about the “Birds and the Bees”) with me it was typical. An older male trying to explain the unexplainable-- a woman and her needs. I think the conversation ended up with “Hey what about those tigers?” I am sure there were other words of advice, but they were never very complicated.
However, and this is where the privilege comes in. When my black and brown friends were given advice and given “The Talk” it wasn’t simple or something cute like trying to understand women. It wasn’t about minor items. It is a matter of life and death. They went beyond “The birds and the bees,” and talked about the following topics:
Don’t ride on your bike or in cars with the music too loud.
Don’t stare at a Caucasian woman.
If a cop stops you and starts questioning you, don’t talk back, just compromise.”
Don’t drive or go out in public with a du-rag or “wife-beater” on.
Never leave the house without your ID.
Never make it look like there’s an altercation between you and someone else.
Never leave the store without a receipt or a bag, even if it’s just a pack of gum.
Don’t be out too late.
Don’t touch anything you’re not buying.
Don’t put your hands in your pocket.
Don’t put your hoodie on.
Don’t be outside without a shirt on.
Check in with your people, even if you’re down the street.
The Black Lives Matter movement is shining a light on those of us with privilege. Hopefully helping us have a better grasp of what our Black and Brown brothers and sister have to go through daily. As one Black mother said: “It is sad that we have to tell our children this, but we do.” Come on let us sing and believe that “we ARE one is the Spirit,” we ARE one in the Lord.” Let us help one another.
Yours, admitting my privilege and working on a better world for all. (And I still don’t understand women. A matter I believe is universal among all men.)
Altar A. Ego