"Give us our daily bread and forgive us our trespassing as we forgive those who trespass against us." - Matthew 6:11-12
For my twenty-sixth birthday, my wife (of two weeks) got us both arrested. And she seemed like such a nice Midwestern girl.
It happened as we joined thousands of everyday revolutionaries for the annual, peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Ft. Benning which houses the infamous "School of the Assassins" (SOA). For many practiced protesters it was like a family reunion.
The SOA, officially known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and "interrogation" tactics.
Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into refugee status by those trained at the SOA.
The central moment of that protest was trespassing onto the base bearing a cross inscribed with the name of a person killed by an SOA graduate. We had no idea how harsh the penalty would be for those who trespass against the government.
Not that harsh, as it turned out. We were booked and photographed but there were far too many of us to be jailed. Instead, we were served a hot dinner by soldiers who couldn't have been more gracious "Would you like butter with your roll tonight, sir?"
Giving voice to the voiceless is kingdom work. And the law enforcement officers (or soldiers) who serve and protect protestors, often reveal the kingdom too. I hope that never changes even as I long for so much else in the world to change.
Holy One, as we stand with those who hunger and thirst for justice, open our eyes to the all the ways your kindom comes.
Matt Laney is a United Church of Christ minister and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available in April, 2018.