#AltonSterling + #GotWorshipWednesday
Last night, #AltonSterling became the new hashtag. I watched the video. A few times. I soon found myself looking for a reason why his shooting may have been justified. Yet I rolled over once I realized his arms were restrained by the officers’s knees and arms. That is…until one officer pulled his gun out and shot him five times in the chest.
Sleep would not visit my bedside. Instead, my thoughts controlled me with questions I kept trying to answer, but couldn’t. “Why is this happening again?” “Is it really about race?” “Shut up, you know good and well they shot him because he was Black” “Yeah, you right.” “Is the media reporting his criminal history already?” *scrolls Twitter* “Yep.” “Jesus!”
My church launched a social media campaign called #GotWorshipWednesday. Every Wednesday, same day as Bible Study, we post about why we worship. Our Pastor is a wordsmith and is the type of guy who doesn’t believe anything until he has researched it and found it true. Therefore, when I refer to worship, I don’t mean a service, a feeling, a prayer or whatever happens when “Oceans” by Hillsong plays (I love that song though).
John 4:24 reads:
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
In the Greek, the word worship translates to Proskuneo which means to lay prostrate, bow, kneel, and blow a kiss to the one who is reverenced. Any given Sunday morning, night or Wednesday night (or a random day when the sanctuary is open) you can walk into my church and find us laying prostrate in worship. That’s how we get down (literally)!
I think about before Jesus went to the cross, He found himself in the same prostrate position, wailing so hard to God to take such a heavy responsibility from Him that he started to sweat blood. And God was watching Him like,
Hours later, Jesus was lynched. Like the images of Black bodies swinging from the poplar trees.
Lynched like Alton Sterling. Sandra Bland. Darrius Stewart. Michael Brown. Trayvon Martin. Rekia Boyd. Jordan Davis…
This is the one I worship. The one who liberated me.
And liberation doesn't come without blood.
Worship isn’t prayer which I’m glad about. I didn’t last night and this morning do not have the words to pray. So I just prostrate myself. I surrender. I submit.
My life’s guiding scripture is Jeremiah 29:7
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
It’s been that for a few years now. It was that when I ran for office in my hometown. Many days and nights I found myself on my bedroom floor, wailing like Jesus when laid his face to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane and could hear God give me the same, “Girl if you don’t getcho!”
And Jesus went on anyway. Therefore, I have to go on anyway. For Alton. For the Black babies in poverty. For the Black mothers giving all they have. For the Black men who are just trying to be better today than they were tomorrow.
I’m not saying I’m a savior for the Black race. CHILE! Listen.
After running for office, I felt so drained and lost all the passion I had for social justice and Memphis. I still cared, but I felt defeated, depleted and disconnected from a power source like a cord with a short in it. I didn’t have words; all I had was worship.
I’m crazy enough to believe that if I just submit myself to God, offering myself and all that comes with me, He’ll give me the tools to be a Jeremiah 29:7 woman. I worship because this fight is so hard to the point where I don’t have the fight to continue. But as Jesus resurrected from Joseph’s old tomb in three days, I believe that same Spirit will resurrect me to keep fighting. I don’t know what else there is to do, but I’m crazy and desperate enough to see if my Christianity can truly change my reality or at least give me the strength, faith and courage to change it.
In addition, when I worship, I often find myself in the same position of those whose lives were stripped.
Like Michael. Like Eric. Like Tamir.
So it further reminds me why I have to keep pushing and fighting.
Worship helps me to fight.