Her name is Emma.
She woke the nation up with the sound of silence.
I had just returned from the March for Our Lives here in Cleveland, and turned on the TV to watch what was happening in DC.
I saw eleven year old Naomi Wadler take the stage and call for an end to gun violence. I saw 9 year old Yolanda Renee King – MLK’s granddaughter – dream about a generation of peacemakers.
By the time Emma took the stage, I was overwhelmed.
Through her tears and her call to silence she spoke to a nation trying to heal and in the silence called us all to action.
The next day, I attended Palm Sunday services. Jesus entered the capitol. He assembled a crowd and spoke. What he said alerted empire to his intent. They threatened him with death. The threats do not silence him.
Do you remember the words of the abolitionist poet James Russel Lowell? He called a nation to heal from the sin of slavery. He penned these words in his landmark poem “The Present Crisis:”
Once to every time and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God’s new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Now is such a time for this nation. This is our moment to decide in our strife with truth and falsehood. Guns are ripping our lives apart. Children are dying in epidemic numbers. We are burying young and black bodies with both a mounting grief and a sterilizing desensitization. We must choose the good or evil side. This is our great cause – and we seek a new Messiah who can clarify the bloom or blight.
Step up, Emma. It is your time.
Enter the capitol. Find the crowd assembled waiting for you to speak. Know that what you speak with rile empire. Come in spite of the death threats. Some great cause is asking you to be God’s new Messiah. This is your time. This is our moment to decide.
Palm Sunday shows us the drama of a time and a nation assembled. It is asked to choose between the good and evil side. With God’s Messiah on the scaffold, unable to turn away from what the moment asks of him he awaits what empire threatens.
A new drama is unfolding, and to it Emma’s silence speaks. That silence reverberates in the chasms of our moral emptiness. It beckons us to a time of choosing. The threats of empire which she hears will not silence her.
What will we do?
Once to every time and nation comes the moment to decide.
I saw in her tears the empathy of the sacred.
I heard in her silence the voice of the prophet.
Christ’s disciples fled as empire enacted its worst upon him.
Where will we stand when they come for Emma, for Naomi, for Yolanda?
Not all our pathways are idyllic and peaceful. May the Spirit of the Living God call us beyond our complacency, giving us courage in this struggle for justice and peace. And may the children live without fear again as we call them invite them to walk their way Into the Mystic.