Third Sunday in Lent
March 7, 2021Revised Common Lectionary
Welcome to Paintbox. If you're new to the site, you can learn more by visiting the about page. Each week you'll find links to interdisciplinary lessons followed by my collecting question for the week and then my personal reflection.
This week, as I remember the 56th anniversary of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in light of the story of Jesus overturning the tables in the temple, I am relecting on how Jesus’ zeal in the temple inspires us to find courage to stand for right relationships.
History & Culture
For The First Time In 56 Years, A 'Bloody Sunday' Without John Lewis
All Things Considered: NPR
National Public Radio
A retrospective on Bloody Sunday and reflection on the first year of its commemoration without John Lewis with us.
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When have you been consumed with zeal?
“Zeal for your house will consume me.”—John 2:17b, NRSV
In March 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his bill to support voting rights and authorized federal oversight of local practices and enforcement of access for all citizens to vote. His bill was passed by Congress as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After the Voting Rights Act was passed, Jimmie Lee Jackson's grandfather Cager Lee, who had marched with his grandson in February 1965 in Marion, registered and voted for the first time at the age of 84.
Jimmie Lee Jackson never got to register to vote. He was gunned down at point blank range, pressed against a cigarette machine in a diner, having been chased there and brutally beaten in the kitchen—while his mother tried to pry officers off of him. He was 26 years old. He was beaten then killed because he had been peacefully protesting with his sister, his mother, and his grandfather—for their right to vote.
It was Jackson’s death that catalyzed the director of Selma’s voting rights movement to organize the first of the Selma to Montgomery marches, which has become known as Bloody Sunday—because, as history tells us, more bloodshed ensued. It was a day when people, including the late John Lewis, were brutally beaten—while peacefully marching. This Sunday marks the 56th anniversary of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday.
I was three years old, beginning life in a country saturated in injustice—in a state utterly consumed by race hatred. I lived in a bubble. I’ve never known what it is like to fear violence against my body on a daily basis.
Those who marched knew very well they may be repulsively beaten and then killed, as Jimmie Lee Jackson and countless others were. Violence was not a remote possibility for them, but a likely outcome of their actions. They were prepared to take the risk—men and women of every age. Some able and strong, others old and frail. All consumed with zeal for justice.
I imagine Jimmie Lee Jackson’s mother was consumed with zeal as she climbed on the officer trying to pry him off her son.I imagine his sister was consumed with zeal as she stood by, watching her brother’s murder. And I am certain his grandfather was consumed with zeal as he registered to vote by the blood of his beloved grandchild.
Zeal for justice creates the possibility for us to co-exist in community with those we do not understand.
Justice is the word we use to describe right relationship. The word’s root meaning is equity—a relationship where everyone has the same access to the good in a system. Without justice, there is no possibility for true community, no relationship upon which to base our common life.
Civil rights leaders have always understood this fundamental truth. Without justice, community is illusion. And therefore, zeal for God’s household, the place where every person has a seat at the welcome table, with full access to the feast, continues. And we who have always had the best seats have a responsibility to be all in. Consumed, like Jesus, with zeal. Until everyone shares the same access we have long enjoyed.