Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway
By Pastor Kelvin T. Calloway
Bethel A.M.E. Church – Los Angeles
Scripture: Jeremiah 31:10-17
Like thousands of others in our nation today, I am outraged over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old African American boy, Trayvon Martin, last month in Sanford, FL.
Trayvon was returning to his father’s fiancé’s house after having gone to purchase some Skittles candy when he realized he was being followed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. While talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend, he was confronted, got into an altercation and was shot and killed by Zimmerman.
On his TV show, ‘Fox and Friends,’ Geraldo Riviera said, “That I would bet money that Trayvon wouldn’t have been fatally shot if he hadn’t been wearing a hoodie.”
Zimmerman claimed that the shooting was self-defense and he was not charged by the Florida Police Department with a crime. However, according to the Miami Herald newspaper, three witnesses dispute Zimmerman’s claim.
Trayvon was killed over Skittles and Bits of information. He was wearing a hoddie because it was raining. He was reported by Zimmerman to be walking slow and looking suspicious. Trayvon was killed, as one news source says, because he was “walking while black.”
The Civil Rights Bill passed in 1964, yet we still deal with the same challenges that gave rise to the bill in the first place. From the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955, to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012; it is like a horror movie being replayed in the psyche of African Americans, over and over again.
Perhaps, more than outraged, a spirit of lament and sorrow overcomes me. I’m sorrowful for Trayvon’s mother and for African American mothers all across this country that have the responsibility of raising young boys in this racist society of ours. I’m sorrowful for our nation who has refused to address and even denied the existence of its sin of racism and its systemic consequences.
I lament today because lament is the response of the faithful in times like these that challenge our faith. There is a cry in our nation going up to God like that heard in Ramah. There is a cry of lamentation; sorrowful that we still face racism and the brutality thereof.
There is a cry of bitterness and weeping, tears that flow for our children whose lives have been cut short by this brutality (v.15). And though I’d like to remain there: I am angry, I am mad, I am bitter; I cannot remain there because the text does not remain there. In Verse 16, the word of the Lord comes to Israel.
Thus said the Lord, according to Jeremiah, refrain from your weeping and your crying (v.16). Though Israel is sorrowful, and bitter, and tearful because of her captivity at the hand of those stronger than her, the word of the Lord to refrain and rejoice apprehends her. Refrain from your weeping and your eyes of tears.
Refrain, Jeremiah says, because work will be rewarded (v.16b). The work of lament does not go unnoticed. The Lord listens, and the Lord hears, and the Lord acts. Stop crying, Jeremiah says, and dry your weeping eyes because the Lord has heard your cry.
Rejoice because there is yet hope, verse 17 says, for the people of God in the end. Israel would be delivered from their captivity and brought back to their land and their children would live therein.
There is yet hope that one day those who don’t look like us won’t be afraid of us. There is yet hope that one day those who are stronger than us, won’t feel the need to destroy us. There is yet hope that those who are not like us will desire to live with us, in the pursuit of peace and harmony together.