Revive us again

Rev. Dr. William Barber, II

April 4, 2019

Yes, these are tough times. The mean and the greedy are cocky on every side. They want us to have pity on billionaires and inflict more pain on the poor. We have more knowledge and more technology, more information available to do justice and love mercy than every before, and at the same time we have more resistance to right than we’ve ever seen. Never before in recent history have we seen so much money being spent in resistance to the cause of equality. The money being spent to go backwards is lewd, it is pornographic, it’s blatant, and it’s arrogant.

Yes, these are troubling times, but by faith we don’t give in to evil. Faith stands up to Pharaoh. Faith speaks truth to power. Faith takes on giants. Faith refuses to accept sinister situations. Faith refuses to be a slave to other folks’ oppression. Faith refuses to be chattel property of injustice. Faith and moving forward is the only way to save our souls and the soul of this nation. Faith is knowing that when God helps you, there is no challenge that can’t be met. There’s no mountain that can’t be climbed. There’s no valley that can’t be crossed. There’s no enemy that can’t be defeated. There’s no darkness that can’t be overcome. There’s no pressure that can’t be pushed through. There’s no political power that can’t be overturned. There’s no challenge that can’t be survived. There’s no war of the spirit that can’t be subdued. Faith.

Faith is knowing that when God helps you, there is no challenge that can’t be met. There’s no mountain that can’t be climbed. There’s no valley that can’t be crossed. There’s no enemy that can’t be defeated. There’s no darkness that can’t be overcome.

My God, I feel something right now. Seems like I hear the Mississippi Mass Choir singing “Hold on to Your Faith”: “The things we have to suffer bring tears to our eyes, yet we’re holding on to our faith. Satan is busy stirring up the wrath, gathering stones to block my path. Our enemies inflicting all the hurt they can by throwing their rocks and hiding their hand. You dig one ditch, you better dig two, for the trap you set for me just might be for you. God put it in our heart and you can’t take it. Our souls on fire and your word can’t harm it. We’re working, we’re toiling, we’re hoping, we’re praying, we’re waiting, we’re watching, we’re fasting, we’re believing, we’re marching, and we’re holding on to our faith.”

We must hold on. Too many challenges abound. Hold on. Too many injustices are real. Hold on. Too much inequality exists. Hold on. We are not those who shrink back unto destruction. We must persevere. We must hold on to our faith and declare before God and this nation called America, when it comes to our rights ordained by God and guaranteed by the Constitution, we will never lose faith. We will never, never, never turn back. One election can’t turn us back. A loudmouth can’t turn us back. George Wallace couldn’t turn us back. Bull Connor didn’t turn us back. Our faith might get bruised and battered. Our hope for this nation to live out what it’s said it’s gonna be might be challenged. We might get discouraged, but we’ll never lose faith.

If I was home in my little country church I’d say we may endure for a night but joy will still come in the morning. We might have some dark Fridays of crucifixion, socially and politically. But if we don’t lose our faith, dark Fridays turn into Resurrection Sunday mornings. We shall overcome. We shall survive. Justice will win. Truth will live. The lion will lie down with the lamb. Crooked places will be straightened out. Rough places will be made smooth. God’s glory and God’s power will be seen. Sounds like I hear the Lord saying, “Stand up and be counted.”

Modern-day racists must not know who we are. The Tea Party must not know we are. We are the sons and daughters of Martin. We are the sons and daughters of Rabbi Heschel. We are the sons and daughters of Rosa Parks, Dorothy Day, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and William Lloyd Garrison. We are the sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah and Muhammad and Moses and Jesus and Mary. We were born for right now, and we who believe in freedom will not rest. By faith we’ve already made it through four hundred years of slavery. By faith we’ve already made it through Jim Crow. By faith we’ve already made it through the Holocaust. By faith we’ve already seen our leader assassinated, but instead of killing the dream they killed the dreamer. The dream still lives on. We ought to sing that song from Selma to Montgomery: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. He is trampling out the vengeance where the grapes of wrath are stored. He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on. He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat. He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement seat. Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him. Be jubilant my feet. Our God is marching on. Glory, glory, Hallelujah.”

Glory. Let’s march together, glory. Let’s stand together, glory. Let’s save the soul of America, glory. Glory, glory, glory, glory, glory, glory, glory, hallelujah. His truth.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. From “Revive Us Again” by The Reverend Dr. William Barber II, with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. Rick Lowery. Reprinted by permission of Beacon Press, Boston.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

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