Today we stumble upon a historical moment. The United States of America will swear into office the first black President, Barack Obama. I haven’t blogged much on this because I have been at a lost for words to describe how I’ve felt over the past several months. While there is still much work to be done in the area of racial justice in our country no one can deny that this is another major turning point in our history.
I’ve learned from prophetic theologians like Stanley Hauerwas that my love for this country should be a Christ-shaped love. Not an idolatrous pride in nation-state boundaries conjured up by the human political imagination. But I cannot help but feel a sense of pride today. Mainly for my oldest son Isaiah Smith. He is a trumpeter in the Harding University High School marching band. Their band will be marching for the incoming president during the inauguration ceremonies. Their journey to this point is a story in and of itself. The fundraising for the kids to go to D.C., the practices, the new music he had to learn, and the deep history lessons they have received from those in our community who lived through the Civil Rights era. I recall one conversation I had with his English teacher, Ms. Robertson. She tearfully described how proud she was of the youth headed up for this historical moment. For many Americans this will be a surreal moment. I never imagined I’d see this day. I can say today that I have a sense of joy of what is taking place before our eyes.
In prayer this morning I could almost hear the prayers and cries of African slaves:
How long O’Lord will you withhold justice from us!
I believe that today we will be witnessing God answering their prayers for justice. For sure it is one answer in a long stream of answers that have come and yet to come but it is an answer nonetheless. This answer is really big. Just the symbolic nature of this event alone will briefly interrupt deeply entrenched racial narratives that operate on an unconscious level.
I feel a change has and is taking place in our country. I sense a momentum of hope swelling up in the hearts of people. I pray that this bi-partisan spirit take hold of our political, religious, and economic leaders in a way that will be unprecedented. I feel a change a comin’. God’s grace and peace be with us all.