“I have a racial consciousness to know that in situations like this, it typically does not work out in our favor… I want to take race out of it – I want to live in a world where I’m not judged by the color of my skin but by the content of my character – but the reality is that I have to look at this through the eyes of a Black man.” – Pastor Howard-John Wesley, Alfred Street Baptist Church
It’s been a little over two weeks since we were forced to swallow the bitter, rancid pill of the Trayvon Martin verdict. Of course, the trial was supposed to be about George Zimmerman’s killing of this child, but we all know how that story played out.
The Sunday morning following the verdict, I attended my church because like many African-Americans around the country, I wanted spiritual context to explain the unexplainable concerning the outcome of the trial, and the dilemma of racial injustice that is prevalent in our present-day society. Having joined Alfred Street Baptist Church a few years ago precisely because of the incredible teaching style of the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, along with the collective strength and dignity of the congregation as a whole, I had no doubt that he would provide a moving yet intellectual sermon for how we as a community need to move forward.
As I sat in on Pastor Wesley’s extraordinary sermon, ‘When the Verdict Hurts’, I have to admit that the wound from the verdict was still too raw for me to truly ‘hear’ the greatness of this word.
And then I listened to it again.
While this sermon has been lauded nationally – by Time Magazine and it will be included as one of two sermons by Pastor Wesley at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens on the National Mall in 2015 – its power lies in the realness of the word, both in content and delivery.
That said, here are some of the reasons you need to push ‘play’ and marinate in this sermon:
1. It’s deeply passionate without being overly emotional or theatrical.
2. It is not a call to anger, it’s a call to practical, thoughtful action.
3. The sermon acknowledges our pain and confusion without absolving our community of our own responsibility to help change the dynamics for our youths.
As you listen to this powerful sermon, keep in mind that it is part of a set of sermons that started last year shortly afterTrayvon was slain. The accompanying, four-part sermon, “A Rizpah Response” is phenomenal as well.
“My greatest dream for my sons is that they live.” – Pastor Wesley