These days I find myself echoing this ancient cry of the psalmists and prophets more and more. Like many of you, I’m sure, I watch footage of bombs being dropped on Palestine, bullets being fired in Maine and wonder along with the prophet Habakkuk:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save? (Habakkuk 1:2)
How long? How long will those in power refuse to call and act for peace? How long will the wallets of gun manufacturers be considered more important than the lives of our neighbors? This week as I bear witness and rage and grieve, and struggle with feelings of helplessness, I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, after the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965:
I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, darken their understanding, and drive bright-eyed wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets of Selma and Birmingham and communities all over the South, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?”
I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.”
How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.”
How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.” […]
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
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Of course, that arc bending doesn’t happen without our help. Or as God replied to Habakkuk’s question:
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.” (2:2-3)
Not long now. Not long because you and I, and communities like ours are called to write the vision of a world at peace and make it plain with the way we live so that a runner may read it and pass it on.
Make the vision of a world at peace plain by continuing to be a community of care that leans in and supports one another in times of difficulty, as you’ve all done for me as I recover from COVID this week. Thank you.
Make it plain by bearing witness to the pain of the world – as we will do on Monday evening at a Peace Vigil for Israel and Palestine, holding sacred space to lament the violence against Israelis and Palestinians that has unfolded these weeks, and praying for an end to oppression and a just peace for all.
Make it plain by embodying our values, gathering clothes and food for those in need through our upcoming drives in partnership with Solutions at Work.
Make it plain by living well, in ways large and small. Holding one hand to our chest, crying a holy “How Long?” The other raised high, taking hold of that moral arc and bending it as we answer, “Not Long.”
Grace and Peace,