The Fires that Destroy -- or the Burning Bush:
The Inner Fire of Love and Liberation
[At about 11:30 am or Noon EDT on Wednesday June 12, hundreds of faith leaders from many diverse communities will gather at the White House to challenge an Administration that has violated two Covenants: the Constitution and the moral Covenant at the heart of every religious, spiritual, and ethical tradition and community. We are gathering at what Jeremiah (22:1-5) called the royal palace, called together by Reverend Doctor William Barber when he spoke at the #FreedomSeder50 organized by The Shalom Center on April 7. Many of us intend to risk arrest if necessary to freely speak our prophetic message as the First Amendment provides. Below is what I intend to say. (I may need to drop a couple of paragraphs to fit the tight time allotted to each speaker) -- Reb Arthur, editor]
Invocation for #JeremiahJusticeJune 12, at the White House
We are the generation
That stands between the fires.
Behind us as Americans
Are the flames of burning crosses lit by hate
to choke our people in the smoke of terror;
Still worse – the burning bodies hung from trees,
Strange burning fruit.
Behind us the fire that consumed the Triangle Shirtwaist factory,
Killing 145 immigrant women workers because its owners locked the exit doors;
Not yet behind us the glare of gunfire exploding in our children.
Behind us as human beings
The fire and smoke
That rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima,
From the burning forests of the Amazon,
torched for the sake of fast hamburger.
Not yet behind us the hottest years of human history
that bring upon us
Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.
Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.
Before us we among all life-forms
face the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.
Where are we now, right now? ?
We face inside the White House the fires of the sin of subjugation –- threats to destroy millions of people in “fire and fury,” the deliberate encouragement of burning still more coal and oil and unnatural gas to scorch and burn our Mother Earth for the sake of hyper-wealthy Corporate Carbon Pharaohs -- all for the sake of the sin of subjugation, misbegotten from greed and arrogance, cruelty and hate:
Subjugation of racial, religious, ethnic, sexual, and gender minorities; of women denied the freedom of their own consciences; of children ripped from their parents’ arms; subjugation of the suffocating middle class, of workers, of family farmers, of the poor, and of people who fall sick; of immigrants and refugees; of the free press; subjugation of the Congress and of the Constitution; subjugation even of Earth, our common home.
The worst threat to American democracy since the Civil War.
The worst threat to human survival since our earliest human forebears ventured forth out of our African birthplace.
What must we do? We must light again in our own hearts the fire of love and liberation that burned in the Burning Bush. The fire that did not destroy the Bush it burned in, the Fire that never was extinguished, can never be extinguished. The fire of the Burning Bush that lit the way to Sinai, to the Cross, to Mecca. The fire in the heart of every community and all Creation. The fire that still lights the way to the Covenant for justice, compassion, healing and the empowerment of all.
It is our task to make from that fire
Not an all-consuming blaze
But the light in which we see more clearly
The Rainbow in the many-colored faces of all life.
We must relight the inner fire of the Burning Bush that lit the way to Rabbi Heschel, “Where some are guilty [of terrible acts], all of us are responsible [to stop them].” The fire of love and liberation that called on Brother Malcolm to give his life in pursuit of his new and deeper understanding of the universal message of Islam. The inner fire that called Dr. King to give his life for love of Blacks killed for daring to vote, of Vietnamese farmers burnt by napalm, of American soldiers sent to die for the sake of subjugation, of garbage workers treated as if they themselves were garbage, of the first multiracial Poor Peoples Campaign -- all and always, in pursuit of the Beloved Community.
It is the Burning Bush that burned and burned and was not consumed that brings us here today and that we light again --
So that we leave here with the Burning Bush aflame within us, to ACT for love and liberation.