When people of the Masai tribe in Kenya greet each other, they ask a question: Kasserian Ingera?
It simply means, How are the children?
This reflects a deeply held cultural value that everybody’s well being is inextricably linked to the current well being of the children.
So, America: How are the children?
Michael Brown wasn’t one of their children, he was one of our children. As we weep with those who weep, and as Ferguson burns in a cauldron of anger that could lead to hopelessness, we need to remember it’s not out their issue, it’s our issue.
What will happen if we don’t turn our attention to the well being of our children?
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
The text that I’ll be preaching this weekend, the first week in Advent, is from Psalm 80, which is a communal lament. Give ear to us, Lord. Restore us, oh God. Awaken your might. Let your face shine upon us. No matter what you think about the grand jury’s decision in Ferguson last night, it is a fitting text for the lament that is being expressed all over America right now.
In Psalm 80, the community of God gives an angry shout to the God who seems absent, indifferent to their suffering. They are shaking their fists to a God they’re not even sure is listening. But here’s the shocker: they engage God anyway. Even though they fear that God is absent, they seem to simultaneously believe that if anyone can restore hope and light and life, God can.
When we are painfully aware of our need for God to arrive in our world again to restore that which has gone horribly wrong, we are experiencing the season of Advent.
We are all collectively afraid (remember that fear can show up as explosive anger or stony silence). We’re confused and we don’t know what to do. I don’t have a lot of words this morning. I am sad and upset. It’s hard to do the small things that today requires.
There will be a lot of noisy words today, and in the days to come, but here are mine anyway:
Weep with those who weep.
Listen to your black brothers and sisters; they are expressing a generational lament, one that includes, but goes way farther back than a grand jury’s decision last night. Enter into the lament. It’s really not just theirs, but ours.
See to the well being of the children.
And cry out – loudly – to the God who actually can restore us, and save us.
Come, Lord Jesus. We wait for you.