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  • Writer's pictureThe Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples

Terror Transform | December 24, 2023 Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake

The innocent child

Sits in great darkness

A broken world smothers him in pain

He is alone

Mother and father are gone

Dead at his feet

No more joy or dancing

Only anguish

While I sit in mornings’ verdant garden

Midst brightly lit floraI hear his war torn moan

His anguish becomes mine own

A howling cry rises from the coreCompassion’s heart calls

Come to this mother little brother

I am here to soothe your pain

I will sing for you love’s song of Joy

Together we will dance again

You are not alone

As-salamu alaykum

-Myrna Pagan


Myrna Pagan, a member of the National Council of Elders, recently shared this poem that had just come to and through her. Poetry just seems to flow whenever she is present. Her poem is a response to the mass killing of children in Gaza, 8,000 since October 7 of this year: “Gaza is by far the most dangerous place in the world to be a child and deaths of youngsters from disease will likely surpass those from bombardment in the absence of a ceasefire, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned on Tuesday.” A parent of a critically sick child said ‘Our situation is pure misery…I don’t know if we will make it through this. UN World Health Organization (WHO), spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris added that WHO staff in Gaza spoke of not even being able to walk in the emergency wards “for fear of stepping on people” lying on the floor “in severe pain” and asking for food and water.“ She called the situation “unconscionable” and said that it is “beyond belief that the world is allowing this to continue.”


Oppressive regimes always kill or attempt to kill the children – children of resistance (with the knowledge of how they survived), children of imagination, who see or create possibilities beyond the norm or the apparent. Innocent children must be killed to stop or at least deter the teaching, pursuit, and embodiment of alternatives to empire. Sometimes slaughtering the innocent is the method. At other times, it’s distorting history or removing the arts from schools, forbidding what should be a time of out-of-the-box thinking, a time of imagining something different, a new world, a time of visions of tomorrow.


Mary, the mother of Jesus, understood the motivating and energizing force of imagination. During her pregnancy, she issued a manifesto of a new order imagined.

 

And Mary said:


“My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name

50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him

From generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

And exalted the lowly.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.

54 He has helped His servant Israel,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55 As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever.”


This is the song, the art, with which she would school her son, providing education that would nurture him and provide the type of “devotional diet’ (Howard Thurman) he would need, a diet of history and culture, a contextual diet of “I don’t feel no ways tired,” of Done Made My Vow to the Lord of Creation. I will go. I shall go to see what the end will be.” She will not understand the scope of the vision or her son’s methods. For his soul “would dwell in the house of tomorrow,” his journey would employ new wineskins unfamiliar to his mother.


Dismiss not Mary’s song. It is a manifesto, a revolution of values. Listen to how she speaks of the vulnerability and ultimate fall of empire. Mary declares scattering the proud, putting down the mighty from their thrones as inevitable. And then posits an insurrection of the lowly, filling them with what they need, subverting society so that the rich (and corporations) are left empty-handed, and implementing a successful poor peoples’ campaign. This is the work of God through this child of God, her child.




Let us not leave the birthing of God in history, as a one-time event that we missed. We are all meant to be mothers of God.

-Meister Eckhart


Yes, empires are vulnerable, always vulnerable as are the current ones. That is why children who represent newness and therefore the downfall must be slaughtered to send a message. When our nation was on the verge of a new social and spiritual order under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., – a mature King who still dreamed that one day . . . – the movement, had to be squelched. Assassination of the leadership was one method, cooptation of leaders was another, infiltrating movements another.


Herod, with all the military might of Rome at his disposal, was shaky, sensing that something beyond his control was afoot.


Wise Men from the East


2 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”


3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.


5 So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:


6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”


7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the [b]wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” (This is an attempted cooptation of the legitimate commitment of the wise men. It fails, however, for he had underestimated the political acumen and spiritual sensitivity of the wise men,)


9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. (Perhaps one of the reasons for their joy was that their calculations had proven to be correct.)11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They had found the one for whom they had been looking for years, the one who would indeed bring a new way of being and doing into the world.





12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. How strategic this was.


The Wise Men were wise. They were scientists, astrologists, who had studied the stars and knew of the longing for relief from occupation. When humanity and heaven perfectly aligned themselves, the time, the fullness of time had come. Wisely, they returned to the East via another route, avoiding further contact with Herod.


The Flight into Egypt

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”


14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”


Massacre of the Innocents

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:


18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,

Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children,

Refusing to be comforted,

Because they are no more.”


So, you kill 20,000 innocent Palestinians in the process of “going after Hamas” and that’s okay with President Biden and other top officials in the United States.


The Lucan scriptures announcing Mary’s song declared a reversal of society. The seemingly impenetrable society with inequities and oppression persisting for generations would end. A young woman is assuring this. How did she know? What caused her to believe? She imagined a future different from the past and present, an energizing future. The Matthean scriptures narrate the search for the child and are confrontational between King Herod and newness. Herod does die and Jesus lives to begin a life of transformation and newness for the oppressed, the blind, the people with leprosy, the incarcerated, the sick – the disinherited.


Clarence Jordan interprets John 1 as “In the beginning was imagination.” If we cannot imagine a future where the lion will lie down with the lamb, where there will be peace in Palestine and all over the world, when the United States will no longer dominate the earth, then we are stuck with the inevitability of today. Today does not have to undermine tomorrow.

 

Please join the King Breaking Silence committee of the National Council of Elders for our Webinar:





Let us embrace our children, our children all over the world, and give them safety, love, and the nourishment needed for the new day ahead.




Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!

-Howard Thurman




 


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