It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.
The word that stands out for me in this Bible Verse is “boldly.” I learned the term “Holy Boldness” from my dear friend Celestine. On our drives to her church for the past seven years for her church’s 6:00 p.m. aerobics’ class which she invited me to, we have grown together on our “faith journey,” as we can be truly honest and vulnerable with one another as BFFs. We know we have one another’s interests at heart as we lovingly “correct” one another if we are “off course” in our words, way of thinking, or contemplating “What Would Jesus Do?” in our lives. I was having a problem, and after she listened, she talked about there being a time to remain silent (not saying words we might regret) and a time for “Holy Boldness” (speaking up with action).
I continue to learn from not only her words of wisdom, but also the experiences I have shared with her. Upon coming home from aerobics one evening, Celestine stopped our conversation because she had noticed that the tail light was out in the car ahead of us. The driver of the car was one of our aerobics’ “sisters.” Celestine immediately made a Bluetoooth call to Erica to tell her that her tail light was out. Erica with a sigh of relief said, “Thank you so much!” Another time, one of our other “sisters” told us she had to drive straight to an auto parts’ shop after aerobics to get a bulb for her tail light before she went home and absolutely before she drove her car the next morning to work. I asked myself, “Have I ever had to seriously worry about a tail light being out?” I learned another phrase, “I had to have that talk” when Celestine told me how she had to teach her four sons (now adults) how to talk to police officers if they happened to be pulled over, even though they had been only DWB (which I learned meant “Driving While Black”).
In Pastor Bonner’s Lenten group, I learned another term from a dear classmate who used the term “white privilege.” I had not heard that term before, either. As she told her story, I listened and learned more about her “black experiences.”
In one of our Wednesday evening classes, I borrowed a book (thankfully offered and suggested by a fellow classmate), which I am now reading entitled So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olua. I am only on page 29, but her words have already reached me on many levels. She writes, “I had started to see myself, and once you start to see yourself, you cannot pretend anymore.” In addition, she says, “Racism in America exists to exclude people of color from opportunity and progress so that there is more profit for others deemed superior. This profit itself is the greater promise for nonracialized people-you will get more because they exist to get less.” She also chooses the definition of race for the purposes of her book as “racism is any prejudice against someone because of their race, when those views are reinforced by systems of power.”
I also recently read an excerpt from an article about “civil rights lion” and congressman, John Lewis. Mr. Lewis tells about the Holy Bible and the March of 1965 in Selma,
“I probably would have died on the bridge in Selma in March of 1965. But the words of Jesus kept me here. He didn’t allow me to die on that bridge. So in spite of many arrests and beatings, I still have faith today because of the teachings of the great teacher.”
John Lewis had and has “Holy Boldness.”
I am listening to more truths from my “sisters” and “brothers,” voices that have been either appeased with just caring words with no actions or totally dismissed or unheard. I heard more voices at the seminar “Becoming the Body of Christ: Condemning White Supremacy” with actions that all of us can take as given by Pastor Bonner and others who spoke at the seminar. With the continuing murders of innocent lives from the days of slavery to America’s shame of lynchings, etc., to the most recent killings of Ahmaud Arberry and George Floyd, it is time to “not pretend,” and it is time for “Holy Boldness.”
Dear and gracious God. Help us to trust that you will take our efforts, multiply them, magnify them, and use all of them to your glory—especially now when we need you. Amen.