A Holy Kiss: A Sermonic Reflection on the Lynching of Mr. George Floyd
Psalm 8, 2 Corinthians 13:3-13
All hell has broken loose. Siblings across the world have been stricken with a life-threatening illness, correction, two life threatening illnesses. One, though horrific and deadly will pass, much more quickly than the other. That one we call COVID-19. The other, also horrific and deadly, has perplexed the medical field for over 528 years. That one we call supremacy.
If we go back to our Psalm today, we see where God gave all humans dominion over “all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” Nowhere does it say that a human will have dominion over another human. But our good Christian forefathers had to make it right by making black folk 3/5 human [in the US Constitution]. What I don’t quite understand is why then was it okay to rape or have affairs with the female slaves and impregnating them having children with what they deemed beasts? Does that not make one guilty of bestiality, (Ex. 22:19) punishable by death? Hypocrisy, double standards, lies, self-servicing, and blaspheming behavior have plagued our society since 1492 right up to this very point and time.
Corinth was under the rule of Rome, subject to taxation all the way back to 146 BCE. Corinth was built on inequalities. Political, religious, cultural, and economic imbalance built and maintained Corinth. Biblical scholars have had to piece together information about what was really going on in that society because they only were given the opportunity to hear the voices of the elite. Corinth was established for the elite. Corinth was built on the backs of slaves. There were a few free slaves who were able to make a good life for themselves but, by and large, it was a society of the have and have nots, the rich and powerful and the servants, and all the bad behavior that brings with it. Corinth even had an area called “emporion” which was the harbor area where the non-elite folk flocked because they could get work. The work was only seasonal, but they felt it was at least something. It was our equivalent of making someone dependent on a part-time job with no benefits for years and not empowering them to truly get on their own two feet. All that behavior did and does is provide sustenance for the status quo. Let me say it another way. It keeps the white folk in power.
Paul told his people to put things in order. Paul said this in 13:5-9; “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed. But we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we are weak and you are strong. This is what we pray for, that you may become perfect.”
Children of God, we have failed! We have failed because we still have lynched black bodies swinging in the southern breeze. The only difference is that the same knee that was used to kick the chair from below a man tied to a tree is now being used to kneel on a man’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, 2:43 of those minutes Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. That’s the time when the crowd who came to witness a lynching would cheer and eat their sandwiches they brought to the picnic. Socializing, when there was no life left in the man hanging from a tree.
We reap what we sow. We have sown hatred, discourse, and oppression and we are plucking the fruit of death and destruction. Bloody leaves are dropping everywhere we turn. Just ask Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and on and on.
Friends, it is time to put things in order. Black people in this country are tired. We are tired of being tired. …Yes, reparations are in order. Black people are sick and tired hearing white people say that they are racist or recovering racists, whatever the statements are. That is the equivalent of giving a pacifier to a baby. It only makes the baby feel better and is condescending and patronizing to black people. You do not have to tell me what I already know. Stop talking about it and be about it.
Here is the big thing. ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY NEED. Because you are at a different socio-economic place in life does not mean you know everything. We tend to do things that make us feel good about ourselves because we are plagued with guilt.
Children of God we must offer a Holy Kiss. That is a societal kiss from antiquity, but a ritual that Paul brought into the church. That simply means we have to take it back out of the church, too.
Paul says that the communion of the Holy Spirit is for ALL. We don’t get to decide who all is. God has decided that for us. We have to offer Mr. Floyd, Mr. Arbery, Mr. McDade, and Ms. Taylor a Holy Kiss. Unfortunately, they cannot receive it, but we have an opportunity on today to offer that Holy Kiss to every person of color starting right now.
Let’s make a covenant with God right now to take our collective knee off the throats of black America so I and my siblings can breathe.
I can’t breathe, and God has work for me to do. What’s going on? What is going on that you can change today, right now? What is going on that you need to use your power and privilege to make a difference?
We can celebrate today if we can be honest with ourselves and with our God and answer the question, “What’s Going On?” and do something, everything about it. The lyrics of this song are hard to hear but the rhythm will make you move because the work is hard but not impossible. Won’t you get up with me and move right now because you know you will be different in the world starting right here, right now. Thanks be to God!
--Rev. Amantha Barbee
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Decatur, Georgia, USA
Oakhurst Presbyterian Church
Decatur, Georgia, USA