Enough Divisiveness

I admit, in my lifetime I have not seen this country so divided. I lived through a potion of segregation and saw the end of Jim Crow. I recall when Martin Luther King was assassinated and can remember motorcycle gangs roaring down the streets of Baltimore following the assassination. Yet, somehow this country largely pulled together to stand for right. Petty differences were laid aside in hope of a uniting nation. King, in part, sought to draw people together by reason of a common thread. That thread was that we were, and remain, of the same substance. That substance remains in that we are all human beings made in the image of God. Because of that there is more to bind us than to divide us.

I clearly recall the time this nation was attacked. Our towers in New York were destroyed. The Pentagon was a target and another plane went down in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden there were United States flags everywhere. The people of this land began to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. A return to God began to be the mantra of the hour. We were all United States citizens and there would be no force to break that bond. Unfortunately, this bond of unity would not last. The ugliness of divisiveness would soon rear its ugly head. All of a sudden everyone was to blame except those perpetrating the most horrendous acts.

Now, not long after those tragic events we had an election. The election was legally won and our new President will soon take office. Yet, there are some that see reason to be divisive and call the soon to be Head of State illegitimate. Others have chosen not to attend the presidential inauguration by reason of the false rhetoric of an illegitimate election. These words and actions have only served to divide a nation that is already in the worst state of harmony that I can recall in my lifetime. Well, enough of this divisiveness already!

Frankly, the Church has not acted much better. Perhaps this is why the country is acting so untoward. It is high time the Church began to remove the ridiculous rhetoric of divisiveness and rancor and began to pull together according to the Word of God. There is no room in the House of God for division. There is much room for love. After all, men will know that we are brothers by our love. That love is not merely a purported love for God. No, it is action taken which shows that we love each other. This could mean helping a family in need of help. It may mean lending a shoulder to cry on. That love might also me demonstrated in helping to heal the hurts of the past. No matter how that love is demonstrated it serves not to divide. Instead, true love serves to unite. This is the ministry of those that love; reconciliation.

The example of love demonstrated by the Church is a love that is apt to spill into the world. Even so, the love the Church demonstrates is really a type of love provided by the Godhead. The fact is that God so loved the world that He gave His son. The Son so loved that He gave His life. The Holy Spirit so loves that He dwells in man. Love is a reciprocal matter that has not time to entertain divisiveness. Love is not familiar with rancor. Instead, love seeks to reconcile broken people to those who have been hurt and damaged by the abomination of hate.

King was right. One’s pigmentation is not a matter that should be considered in any instance. Instead, we should look to the heart of man as God does. We live in a strong nation and ought not to be divided by the vitriolic and visceral verbiage of those that choose not love. The divisive nature of some in this country is only causing a divide that could bring about the downfall of this great nation. This is unacceptable and far from Christ-like. Enough of this divisiveness! It is time we broke the bands of this that binds us and remember the part of King’s dream that can and must be more than a dream. He looked forward to the day when we all can join together and not just sing the old Negro spiritual but actually walk in the words – Free at last, free at last. Thank God, almighty, we’re free at last!

Times of Sadness

Today my mind goes back to a difficult time in my life. It is a day I will never forget. Some days just do not go away and there is good reason the for lingering of those days. This particular day I went to see my mother in a hospital in Baltimore. My sister, just a few days prior, moved my mother into her home. You see, my mother suffered with Alzheimer’s and was not in control of herself. My youngest brother, my sister and I were my mother’s primary caretakers. And, for good reason my sister thought it best to move my mother into her home where there were no steps inside. My only question to my sister was “Will she ever come back home?”

Somehow I knew that she would not return to my childhood home. I studied that two-story brick house in Baltimore for a moment reminiscing on the many things that took place in that house. I knew that things would not be the same. I knew that my mother did not have many days left and I had no idea how to handle the eventuality of her death. After all, she was my mother and she had been a strong woman. She was a feisty woman so, to see her weak in many ways was far from the norm. Yes, I saw my mother even while it was hard to see Mama. Sometimes sadness is masked by duty and responsibility. That would not matter though; as my sister drove off with my mother sadness would slowly seep out.

And there was the final hospital visit. I knew my mother was having some issues. That did not matter. I wanted to sit with her. I wanted to hear her talk. I wanted to make her laugh. The problem was that she did not talk – not to me nor my sister nor the personal attendant. She grunted a little and then choked. The nurses assumed the choking because of what she had recently drank and sat my mother more upright in the bed. I stayed with her a while longer and had to leave as I was scheduled to tutor a young lady in Baltimore County. I was going to come back; that is where my heart was. My sister would stay in touch with me as to my mother’s condition. The blood clot in her lung would see to her soon demise.

The two hour session was more than half over. My phone rang and my sister was on the other side. She advised me that there was no need to go to the hospital. It was all I could do to contain myself as I sat in front of that young lady. There was nothing more I could do for my mother and this student was in need of my services. I continued with the lesson. I needed to finish this course for the young student. I could not sit there and express my sadness. My work and duties had to prevail so that the hurt was covered by responsibility. Still, just below the surface the hurt was boiling.

There was no one else that I would allow to preach her funeral. No one else could be a personal as her son. Perhaps this was a bit selfish of me? It truly matters not because as I presented her eulogy the message was “A Sure Foundation.” The reflection only brought about more tears yet there was certain joy because my mother was certainly Mama. The hurt sometimes presents today. That is alright though, it has only been a few years and sadness is not a thing that can be easily erased. Yes, I miss my Mama which is why there are sometimes moments of sadness.

Yes, there were times of sadness prior to that. In 1976 my maternal grandfather succumbed to the results of a stroke. Other family members preceded my mother in death to include all grandparents, a niece and my father. Yet there remains another time of sadness that arose not long after my mother crossed into eternity. My great-nephew was born with dire sicknesses. I did not know him very well yet I lived with him, his parents and his brother for a short period of time. He crossing into eternity soon followed my mother. Sadness set in on top of sadness. I was asked to preach his funeral. So, I did.

Yes, I remember that five year old. He never quite got “Uncle” down so it sounded like he was calling me “Oink Oink.” Yes, even in sadness there are things that can make you smile. In hurt there are moments of healing. I was asked to preach this young child’s funeral and I preached as though it was Sunday morning. The goal was to present healing in pain. There is absolutely little we can do when we are sad except to wade through the sadness. So, in wading I preached “Time is Winding Up.” The message was not for the audience alone but also for me. It would be nice to hear my nephew once again say, “Oink Oink.”

Today I have been made sad again. You see, Hawaii was a wonderful experience for me on a number of levels. It is true that the military took me there. Nonetheless, I am convinced I was there by reason of Divine intervention. This is because I was invited to the City of Refuge soon after I arrived on the island. I quickly joined the church and became involved in the ministry in a number of ways. In doing so I had opportunity to work with the Anderson family. Pastor Anderson was an excellent pastour with four children. The oldest was David. David was a few years younger than me yet we bonded.

I choose not to forget the time there was a church picnic. David thought that he could beat me wrestling. He was a tall, lanky teenager and I a trained Marine; not so tall and far from lanky. Well, let’s just say David never pinned me. These are the types of things that come to mind when I think of a young man that became a husband and father. I had not seen him for several years before I visited him in the hospital a very short time ago. We were able to talk and reminisce. We laughed a little and eventually prayed. It was a blessing to be in David’s presence. I am not so sure they make them better than that.

David has now crossed into eternity. As these words are being penned I am cloaked in a sort of heaviness. Sadness has once again found itself around me. Yet, I am not the only one walking under the cloud of despair. I am certain Pastour Anderson, Sister Victoria and David’s siblings are having a hard time keeping tears from their eyes. Sadness is no easy thing. It pulls at your very fiber. Even so, I am convinced that in this time of sadness God is able to show himself mighty and powerful. I am certain that through this hurt and pain there will be healing. This is a time of sadness and it is my prayer that comfort and peace envelope all that mourn for David.