Let those who gloat over me turn back

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The sight of a white police officer pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck is horrific, and because it is so egregious, it is a teachable moment of why and how different people see things differently. Things like law enforcement. . . or the Bible . . . or the news. Black churches in America are likely to rejoice in biblical texts that white Christians avoid as too harsh, too “us v. them,” too black and white, so to speak.

This morning I’m hearing Psalm 70 as the voice George Floyd’s brother Philonise bearing testimony before a committee of the United Sates Congress 401 years after Jamestown.

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me; *
    O LORD, make haste to help me.

Let those who seek my life be ashamed
and altogether dismayed; *
    let those who take pleasure in my misfortune
    draw back and be disgraced. 

Let those who say to me "Aha!" and gloat over me turn back, *
    because they are ashamed.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; *
    let those who love your salvation say for ever,
    "Great is the LORD!"

But as for me, I am poor and needy; *
    come to me speedily, O God.

You are my helper and my deliverer; *
    O LORD, do not tarry.
 
-- Psalm 70, Book of Common Prayer Daily Office Lectionary, p.970.

Seeing America from on Top or from Below the Knee

“My concern is to understand America biblically,” wrote street lawyer theologian William Stringfellow, “– not the other way around, not (to put it in an appropriately awkward way) to understand the Bible Americanly.” — William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (Reprint, Wipf and Stock, 2004).

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. I, a child of privilege, need help. Let me not be ashamed. O Lord, do not tarry.

Gordon C. Stewart, by the wetland, Minnesota, June 14, 2020.

Verse in Memory of George Floyd — The Trumpeter Swans (the Pen and the Cob)

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THE TRUMPETER SWANS


The pen sits and waits
Upon her nest among 
The reeds where no
Man’s greed can steal
Or break the eggs
Beneath her breast

She blares no trumpet
To call attention to
Herself and the unborn
Cygnets she soon will
Carry on her back to
Keep them safe

She waits patiently in
Silence among the
Cat-tails where red-wing
Black birds soon will
Soar and swoop around 
Her nest to feed their kind

She sees no red, no
Black, no white, and
Hears no honking from
The noisy swamp where
Black birds die beneath
A rogue cob’s knee.

- Gordon C. Stewart, with the trumpeter swans by the wetland, June 3, 2020

The Anguished Heart of God

“Now the whole earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was filled with violence.” “The Lord was grieved that he had made man upon the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

Genesis, chapter 6, verses 11 and 6.

— Gordon C. Stewart with the trumpeter swans by the Minnesota wetland, June 4, 2020.on’t