I was preparing for worship on a warm Sunday morning and thinking about the gathering members of my faith community, gathering to witness baptism, and to share in the grace of Communion. The Communion Table is a Table of hope, refreshment, promise and power. The Table is also the reminder that One who was good, just, and loving, whose presence changed people’s lives – was killed. As I was considering the meanings of the Table, I read a message in my inbox, one I knew was supposed to be a message of encouragement. But I was annoyed and disappointed.
“We’ve been through this before, we’ve seen harder times, we come from strong people.”
I understood the intent of the message, and the good will of the messenger, I think.
Except, preparing to be at the Table was a stark reminder: some didn’t survive – not because they weren’t strong, but because evil is evil. They did not survive and there is a perpetual, pulsing hole in our collective souls the size of their absence. And God feels some kind of way about that.
I wrote this and my dear friend and classmate Fr. Philip Carr-Jones arranged the verses in response.
Some Didn’t Survive
Emma Jordan-Simpson | July 1, 2018
Some of our ancestors did not survive.
Didn’t survive the chase.
Didn’t survive the Middle Passage.
Didn’t survive Miss Anne and Massa.
Didn’t survive the Overseer.
Didn’t survive the House Negro.
Didn’t survive Emancipation without food and shelter; without reparations.
Didn’t survive reconstruction,
Didn’t survive Jim Crow,
Didn’t survive benign neglect,
Didn’t survive the Movement.
Oh Yes, many did because of faith,
Because of grit
Because of the power of community.
But many, many did not.
So, I’m not real inspired by the
“we’ve seen these days before.”
Some don’t make it
to the other side of that truth.
I harangue God
to be true to God’s character
on the daily now.
And I’m also hoping
we will keep an eye open,
a seat at the table,
a hug ready,
a job lead on tap,
a hand ready
for those who are trying their best
to live another day
to tell the story
of how they made it through.
And I’ll worship
because there’s room at the Table
for people like me
who really are not feeling
the cultural celebration in Godly tests of endurance.
God ain’t had nothing to do
with the plan of terror underway right now.
God didn’t turn God’s back
on God’s son because
That theology sucks and does not hold true.
the bruised ego of the king who would be God,
the power-hungry idol of state,
And God said,
I will have the last word,
and my word is
I want life for every one
now facing the collusion
of this hateful moment.
And I’ll be whispering
in the ear of the Spirit
who gathers with us
at the Table today.
(arr. Philip Carr-Jones)