The Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, MA will be putting up a Black Lives Matter banner in the next couple of days. Part of the service today was dedicated to blessing the banner. As one who asked for the banner, I was asked to lead the blessing and say a few words about needing to raise this banner.
Earlier this fall, I asked Rev. Tess if we could put up a Black Lives Matter banner at the church. I didn’t ask because of any one particular death of a Black person at the hands of the police—despite the many that can be named: Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland; and the list goes on. I asked about a banner after what happened to a Unitarian church in Reno, NV. Their minister, Rev. Neal Anderson, is a friend of mine and I heard that they dedicated their third Black Lives Matter banner after their first two banners were vandalized and stolen respectively. Despite each time this majority White church had their banner ruined or taken, they put up another one with the same blessings and commitment as they put up their first one, because it was part of the commitment that church made to support social justive. I felt as we at this church believe in working for social justice, a banner is the least we could do.
In 1930s occupied Europe, the Unitarian flaming chalice had become an underground symbol for assistance to help Unitarians, Jews and otheers to escape Nazi persecution. We currentlly have a rainbow flag signifyingus as allies to the LGBT communities, and at one point we had a sign on the post that read “all welcome.” The question is not why don’t we have a Black Lives Matters banner, but why have we not put one up sooner?
As I said in a sermon this summer, ours is a covenental religion, meaning we practice our faith in the promise of how we treat each other. We have always shone a light on injustice and as a beacon of hope. At the rate that Black people are killed at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve the public, they are inneed of hope. By hanging this banner for all to see, we give hope because we stand in solidarity with those oppressed until such oppression is held accountable.
The banner is unfurled and the congregation is asked to lay hands on it as these words are read in blessing the banner:
There is a community out there that is hurting
While we cannot alleviate this pain
We can stand with those in pain and help support their struggle
As a faith community we hold in our second principle
Justice, equity, ad compassion in human relations
This should be the norm
But we recognize often it is the exception
We are called to action yet again
And as a faith community we answer that call
May we recommit ourselves to justice, equity, and compassion
And with this banner may we say
To the local community and society at large
That we light the beacon of hope again
That we are allies in their struggle