Today's Friday Five by janintx offers a series of personal questions or . . . "If you prefer for this Friday Five, you may write about any of the current affairs that you are thinking about." I think I'll make up my own to accompany the latter:
1. What is the first national tragedy or crisis of which you remember being acutely aware?
The assassination of Robert Kennedy. I had become, at the age of twelve, interested in politics, largely due to his charisma and energy. I recall being home from my first year of boarding school, wandering out to the living room in my pajamas early in the morning, turning on the television to the Today show, and watching in horror as the events of the previous evening unfolded on the screen.
2. What was the first march or walk in which you participated?
During the spring of my senior year of high school, many of us participated in a 20-mile walk to raise funds to combat hunger. I don't remember where we walked ~ Northampton, maybe? ~ but I do remember that my big toenails turned black and fell off a day or so later!
3. What was the most moving event in which you ever participated in response to a national crisis?
Each spring, my entire school of 700 girls sang a Sacred Concert. I realize, now, that we were the beneficiaries of an incredible choral music tradition and education. In May 1970, we were completely absorbed by the Kent State shootings as the concert approached. Our brilliant music director rehearsed a powerfully slow and stirring arrangement of "Once to Every Man and Nation" with us for the end of the concert. I have never heard that arrangement since except on my recording of the concert and on the school website. Many of us have remarked in the decades following that we have never forgotten that experience.
4. How has your church responded to racial issues in our society?
Last winter, we used some grant money to take dozens of high school students and teachers from two schools to see the movie Selma and brought them back to church for lunch and a panel discussion with community leaders. My congregation is small and struggling, but that event, in which about ten of our members also attended the film and helped with the lunch, created tremendous positive energy for us and helped us see what kinds of contributions we might make to our community.
5. What are you doing about Charleston in worship tomorrow?
So far, what we have is a statement of prayer and solidarity on our sign out front. Tomorrow, as part of our continuing visioning process, we are taking time during worship to do an exercise designed to enable people to indicate what areas of mission are important to them. I had planned about a two-minute sermon to introduce the process, but now I think that I will add a few sentences, referencing the Pope's encyclical on climate change and the Charleston shootings, to remind my people that Christianity is a revolutionary faith, one which asks us to live the whole of our lives differently and in which even the most basic acts of faith can be a risky business, and that we are called to embrace the gospel in many ways we might not expect.