Litany of Names
1 Peter 5: 8-11 (NRSV) “Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sistersin all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you…eternal glory in Christ, will…restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To [God] be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
Many of us are still waiting to be restored into an aligned (rather than maligned) status of humanity. The process of waiting feels like paper cuts: hurtful, dangerous, tender. And yet, some of us are still surviving.
That does not mean that we are safe, but rather that who we love is not proof of our brokenness in need of change, rather our innate humanity needs to be fully affirmed: as Latinx, as sexual beings with urges and desires, as God’s perfect creation. We are not questioning whether we should be “fixed” to fit the hetero-normative expectation, rather some of us are requesting restoration of our humanity in order to be aligned and in relation with God’s beloved-sacred community.
We have been in the midst of this struggle so long. Bitterly wounded and hurt by a christianity that professes God’s love from one side of their mouth while spewing dogmatic legalism as a means of oppression from the other. Friends, we have the power to call out to the Holy Spirit to battle on our behalf against forces of injustice. We are not asking for permission to exist, God has already declared us good. We are taking our place. The Holy Spirit is our support! We are not alone. “From the desolate pit, out of the miry bog…God secures our steps (Psalm 40:2).
We need not walk alone. We can find strength in others who share our story. We have to pay attention to those who come into our spaces that we may be able to hear and learn from some of them, because the need for justice is real and when we speak of that need, we speak not on behalf of ourselves, but on behalf of those around us whose voice is not being heard. Learn to stand still and listen, there is strength in silence, when we are quiet we hear our neighbors pain, that we may take action.
Know who is with you. Know who is missing from your table and from your sanctuary. Keep them in your prayers. Say their names out loud… because each one of us matters. “Say their names” is a popular refrain for many of us who are on social media. It seems that every day we add a new name and a new story. And this makes many of us, ever so uncomfortable. Some of us have been asked to stop causing so much trouble by adding to the litany of names.
But each name and each story matters. Because when we have a role call and 11 names are called, we notice that one of the followers is no longer mentioned, Judas Iscariot lost his connection to love. And we notice that some women were also present… among them Mary the mother of Jesus and with her his brothers (read Acts 1: 6-14).
Prayer: God, each name that went before us in this struggle for liberation is a prayer. Each life lost without justice having been meted is a prayer. Each body left unclaimed is a prayer. Each trans life is a prayer. Each Black and Brown life is a prayer. God, you tattooed each of us and our story on the palm of your hand… to you we turn our gaze. Amen.