Where's the banner?
Remember our banner – “Building God’s World Where All Lives Matter” – with the beautiful image by Betsy Wagner depicting the wonderful diversity of God’s creation? A number of weeks ago the Cape Cod winds prevailed - - the grommets holding the banner were no match for gale-like forces.
But I wonder if the winds of God’s Spirit were actually at work as well!
To briefly jog your memory: we designed and dedicated this banner last year. The impetus for the banner grew from a desire to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. At the same time, we wanted to express our support of law enforcement officers. A committee was formed to come up with wording that would best express our commitment to welcoming and affirming all people. A fine group, including Barbara Bertram, Dallas Jones, Jan Laster, Mary Lee Mantz, Bill Stoeckert, Betsy Wagner, and a representative from Am HaYam, agreed on the wording “building God’s world where all lives matter.” The Cabinet approved this and with the great help of Ross Witt-Long, the banner came into being and found a home on the front of the church. We were proud!
But then...as Ross astutely observed: “It seems as though the phrase (“all lives matter”) has been politically energized to such an extent it has taken on a meaning and power of its own undermining the virtue of the statement as we had intended it.” Thank you, Ross. Well stated!
Not only was the banner battered by high winds and rain, it also was battered by a political climate in our nation in which the phrase “all lives matter” was adopted by those vehemently, indeed angrily, opposed to Black Lives Matter. Furthermore, we remember that Black Lives Matter emerged out of the specific circumstances of the killings of unarmed African-American men. As such, we are listening carefully to the Black Lives Matter movement which maintains that the phrase “all lives matter” diminishes, if not dismisses, the virulent realities of racism that our African-American brothers and sisters encounter every day.
Language is a powerful tool. I – and I hope all of you also affirm that – Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, Latino Lives Matter, LGBT Lives Matter, Immigrant/Refugee Lives Matter, Asian Lives Matter,… and yes, that Your Life Matters. How can we express this without denying the racism and classism which still pervade our nation and world? We are inspired by the words of our Church Covenant. We are inspired by the fact that we are an Open and Affirming church. The Banner Committee is back at work developing beautiful, loving wording to express our commitment. Stay tuned….!