Monday, May 16, 2011

Broken Bodies: Freedom Riders, Christ, and All the Bodies, Broken for Us

Yesterday morning, before church, I read several articles about the Freedom Riders in The Washington Post.  I particularly liked Colbert King's essay, which referenced Raymond Arsenault's book, Freedom Riders.   The essay ends this way:

"Freedom Riders arriving at the Anniston [Alabama] Trailways station an hour later also encountered the KKK. From Arsenault’s Freedom Riders, we know they were a pile of bleeding and bruised humanity when the Klan was finished with them."

Then, two hours later, I was Assistant Minister, handing out the bread during Communion, saying, "The body of Christ, broken for you."  My mind leapt back to that image of those young, idealistic Freedom Riders, staggering from a burning bus, only to be beaten savagely by a mob.

I thought of all the ways the human body is broken when we fight for justice, all the evidence we have, just from the 20th century alone, of the many varieties of ways to break the body, in evil's efforts to break our spirits.

I try to stay focused on the promises God gives us.  I try to think of the glorious ways that God might knit our broken parts back together again.  I think about the ways that the world is a more just place, a place closer to the creation God intended, because of people's willingness to suffer being broken.  We live in a more integrated country, with a wider variety of opportunities, than we would have if those Freedom Riders had stayed home.

I try not to get bogged down in the despair that comes from realizing how much work there is left to do.

Tonight I'll watch the PBS special about the Freedom Riders, and I'll remind myself that breathtaking change is possible, in ways we can't even imagine.  I'll pray for those still suffering brokenness. 

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