By Gwen Gustafson-Zook, interim campus pastor
This week’s theme: Me and You and the Darkness in View
“And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19
“For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:10
The cold rain fell, threatening the flickering light coming off our small candles as they struggled to stay lit in the face of fear and evil and violence. A small crowd had gathered to bear witness to the sanctity of all life and to bear witness to the violence being inflicted by the state of Georgia as they prepared, yet again, to end a life in the electric chair. The legitimacy of the conviction was questionable. But because the victim had been a white female and the accused was a black male, the state was quick to assume guilt and the execution was set. This was, and is, a common reality with the death penalty: it is unjustly applied with race playing a profound role.
The tension mounted as the clock moved toward midnight: the time of all scheduled executions in the state. Those gathered in the circle of fading light sang “This little light of mine.” Five minutes before midnight, into this dark and sacred space, a truck approached. We looked up to see three hooded klansmen getting out of the truck, yelling into the night, “Burn! Burn! Burn!” A knot formed in my throat. My voice froze. Sensing my fear, the elderly Catholic Sister standing next to me leaned over and said, “Keep singing.” And so I did. Through tears and fear, with the darkness very much in view, I tentatively joined my voice to the others, doing what we could to speak LOVE into this space of hatred, singing “All through the night, I’m gonna let it shine…”
There are times in life when things are not good; when violence and oppression and hatred seem to have the upper hand; when our faith in the goodness of God and the goodness of life are threatened. At times like these, we do well to stand together; To listen to the sacred voices of those who stand with us; And to be strengthened by the faith of those who, in that moment, have more faith than we do. And….to keep singing.