Anchored

Silhouette of a person with outstretched arms, facing the sun setting through clouds.
Photo by Aina Vine on Unsplash

For the last few weeks, since the murder of George Floyd,  I have had the honor and responsibility of marching the streets of Chicago declaring justice not just George Floyd, but for the cries that reached beyond Floyd.

The murder of our dear brother was a straw that our people did not want to add to our backs and we channeled the voice of our ancestor, Fannie Lou Hamer, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” 

There was one march in particular that gave me the most energy for the work in the moment and to come. What was so special about this moment in history is its leadership by faith leaders across the city. Although led by religious leaders, even those who ascribe to no particular religion at all were represented in the large crowd spilling over out of the streets onto the sidewalks.

By Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota – Faith Leaders – Justice for Jamar Clark – Minneapolis City Hall, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46134335

There were many religious traditions, all kinds of physical ability, a number of different cultures and ethnicities. They all gathered, risking their lives in a pandemic to begin an act of revolutionary love—declaring that the lives of black folk matter.

This was led and organized by the Church, an institution that many believe has become silent in moments such as these, but I saw the Church unite a host of people for one cause and speaking truth to power. I saw the Church in this moment claiming its prophetic voice and demonstrating love.

I joined this demonstration as I do with every demonstration—with my clergy collar anchored around my neck to remind myself and those around me that God is here, that God cares, and that God is on the side of those whose necks are continuously crushed.

I believe that from the throne room of God, God with God’s angels are chanting and singing, “Black Lives Matter!”

I wear the collar to remind myself where I am anchored so that I can effectively do the work I have been called to in the moment, in this movement.

Many are attempting to find their anchor in this movement and it is imperative that we find an anchor to ground ourselves for the work that is required of us, whether black or white.

Some may hear this and “finding one’s center” may come to mind or “reaching nirvana” for some. Yes, to it all. Anchoring one’s self is returning to your authentic self, grounding mind, body, and soul. It is quite literally having something to hold on to or allowing it to hold on to you when you have become overwhelmed.

Mother and child anchor themselves in nature.
Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

That anchor for me is love—a radical love; a revolutionary love.

What is required to anchor yourself and what is required for this movement is love. I see it in the protests lived out and I know it well from my Christian tradition. To be clear, this is not a hallmark love, it’s not a RomCom love. The love I speak of is a pure love that is radical and revolutionary. It is a love that challenges and is accountable. It is a love that disrupts and reconciles. It is a love that is messy and beautiful. It’s a revolutionary love.

I am reminded of the one who I follow, Jesus, who gave us the perfect example of this anchor. One who came out of love to disrupt systems that only benefited the rich and those of status. Jesus who, himself said, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword,” (Matthew 10:34) and it was the very same Jesus that also brought peace. The very mission of Christ involves tension and it is contradictory, but has always been anchored in love.

Most are afraid of this love because of what it demands. It is messy, divisive, and challenging but it works. Jesus in his love challenged the Roman empire and everywhere he went he taught, “poor lives matter,” “lepers lives matter,” “differently abled bodies matter.”

Because of his views, because of his disruption and challenges to the powers that be, this brown middle eastern man was placed on death row and lynched by the state. It was love that anchored him, love gave him the strength and power to stick close to his belief system and continue to speak truth to power. It was his love for all people that divided, but was done in the spirit of reconciliation for the human race.

Thousands gathered at Black Lives Matter Rally.
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

This is my anchor. It grounds me and energizes me to take care of the task at hand.

In my own strength, I cannot. In hate, I cannot. Only in love. “…Perfect love casts out fear…,” (1John 4:18) and it is fear that we are up against; fear of losing, fear of change, fear of others. It is white supremacy. But a love that disrupts, a love that demands change and does not back down, a love that challenges, and a love that divides and reconciles is a perfect kind of love and only that love can sustain you, anchor you, and cast out fear.

As we continue the fight and seek justice, may love anchor us and energize us towards freedom for all people. May love anchor you so you will not lose heart and strength to fight.

May love propel you, as we seek to see each other as human all on the same plainfield. May we be like Jesus. May we disrupt, challenge, divide, and reconcile knowing we are a part of one race—the human race.

Rev. Todd F. Campbell Jr., MDiv