June 10, 2020
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
It seems as though the protests are quieting, and we’re all talking a breath. We’ve seen the anger, the frustration, and now we might be beginning to ask ourselves what should we do? What should we personally do?
I’m sure that while some who will read this message are absolutely convinced of the racism in our society, others are not so sure. And while some of us believe that many police officers abuse their power, others are more concerned about abuse of police officers. We’re not going to bridge those gaps in our mutual understanding in just one day, or one week, or even in one month.
Today, I’d like to ask you to think about just one story – the story of a little six-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges. Ruby was the first African-American child to desegregate a previously all-white school in New Orleans in 1960. You may remember the Norman Rockwell painting, The Problem We All Live With”. Every day, Ruby was threatened, every day she attended school in an otherwise empty classroom because all the other children had been withdrawn from school by their parents.
Usually, when we hear the story of Ruby Bridges, we celebrate her bravery and the courage of her parents; we celebrate the ways she changed the face of education in New Orleans. But today, I want to ask us each to look at another part of the story. I want us to look at the people who aren’t in the painting.
The painting shows Ruby and the marshals who protected her. But it doesn’t show the people who were attacking her. It doesn’t show the parents who took their children out of school to keep them from being in the same room with her. Think about those people. Think about people who were so filled with hate that they would have killed Ruby; so filled with hate that they did kill others.
Think about the hatred that poisons a soul. We’d like to think it’s gone, wouldn’t we? But it sure looks like it’s right here, under the surface. It’s time to start looking under the surface, time to stop just treating the symptoms of discrimination while ignoring the disease of racism.
Ruby Bridges changed her world and her witness is still changing minds today. Look at the people who hated her, think about racism, wonder what it looks like today, and see what we can do to grow more and more into Jesus’ picture of a people equal in the sight of God, working together to make this world good.
Blessings, Pastor Virginia