Lenten Reflection 5: The Rev. Craig Lemming

The Rev. Craig Lemming

Lenten Reflection 5: The Rev. Craig Lemming

In Part 6 of The Night is Long But Light Comes in the Morning, Dr. Meeks invites us to stand in solidarity with those who suffer by being brokenhearted fellow pilgrims with them. Meeks writes, “When we allow our hearts to break for one another, a new dynamic of vulnerability can emerge that makes it possible to see in a new way.” As I work hard to heal my mind, body, and spirit from the numbing sin-sickness of coloniality, being heartbroken with those who are directly impacted by racist violence has drawn me even more deeply into the biblical accounts of the Passion of Jesus. 

Since childhood, every Holy Week, I listen to my well-worn CDs of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion and, without fail, my heart breaks all over again. Susan Cain’s research on how sad songs connect us with sublime emotions explains why I do this. But this year, thanks to Dr. Meeks’ wisdom, I will be listening to Bach’s Passions in a very different way. These words of James Cone will haunt my Holy Week listening rituals:

Until we see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with a “recrucified” black body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy.  (James H. Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012), xv.)

Dr. Meeks invites us to “remember that the world is eagerly awaiting those with the courage to be brokenhearted. Take a brave half step in that direction and see how it serves you.” This NPR story about the song “Strange Fruit” and Billie Holiday’s voice may open your heart to the pain of recrucified non-white bodies. Like the Bach Passions, this song calls me to be in heartbroken solidarity with those suffering the unspeakable pain of racial trauma. What music knits you into the love of a Black Christ crucified? Can you take this half step toward brokenhearted solidarity?

Meeks writes, “It might be a wonderful project for a group of thoughtful people to come together and work on designing an intentional community that reflects true diversity.” Over the last seven years, Circle of the Beloved’s young adults, Board, and ministry partners have been working hard to do this by creating kinship across all lines of difference in North Minneapolis and across the metro. With Meeks, “We knew that the wounds of the past would not disappear simply because we wished for that to be the case. The work of healing had to be done.” In the spirit of being brokenhearted with those who are suffering so that we can all work together to heal one another from the wounds of racism, I leave you with these questions and spiritual practices:

  1. Meeks writes, “it is empowering to stay open to the process of engaging in suffering with others.” What opens you to being brokenhearted with those suffering most from racism? Music? Film? Art? How might this become a regular spiritual practice for you?
  2. Meeks writes, “there is an inextricable relationship between being disturbed and becoming the person that one was put on earth to be.” What disturbs you most about racism in Minnesota? How does this connect you with God’s calling on your life? 
  3. Meeks writes, “All racial healing must be supported by memory.” What memory can you create with your life that will be an outward and visible sign of God healing the sin of racism? In what ways can you turn away from the amnesia that racist coloniality breeds?