April 2, 2015

On the 3rd Sunday of every month, from 2-2:30, Lakeshorians stand on a street corner in our community to sing. About 15-20 people proudly lift our voices to proclaim what we believe – that God cares for our community, and that God, and we, are working to create a more just society. We stand in solidarity the Black Lives Matter movement, holding signs that insist people are Created Equal and ought to be Treated Equal. We pass out flyers clearly articulating our vision for justice in Oakland, specifically regarding accountability practices for the police and fire departments.

Our actions are met with a variety of responses. Some people ignore us, some people avoid us, and some people drive by with a quizzical look on their faces. Others, however, are much more curious, interested and affirmative. Many wave in support of our message, or offer an encouraging honk; children are especially fascinated with our spirit and energy. Some people come closer to listen to the music, some want to talk with us about what we are about, and one or two join us in singing a few songs.

Our actions allow us to take a small but significant public stand for what we believe. In the midst of injustice and protest, we are able to raise our voices and proclaim that there is a better way.

Our actions allow us to bring our faith into the community. Being the people of God is not just about coming together to worship on Sunday morning, it’s also about spreading out Sunday afternoon, taking our faith to the streets (and our homes). Perched on the grass across the street from the church, we sing of our faith – faith in a God who demands justice and offers mercy; faith in a God who cares deeply for all people; faith in a God who calls us to demand justice and care deeply for our community.

Our actions allow us to claim hope and share hope. The news about black lives in our country is disturbing. The realities are devastating. But the news and the racist realities of our society are not the only part of our story. Communities of resistance abound, people are actively working to demand justice, and God’s creative powers are at work breathing new life into places of death and destruction. This part of the story is inspiring, and this part of the story needs to be shared. Hope is contagious – I see its flames flickering brightly whenever we stand and sing “This Little Light of Mine.” When we connect with the community, I see each of our small but significant flames joined together – the fire burns brighter and grows in strength and warmth.

It would be too much for me to say that Standing and Singing is changing the world – but when I sing, I am inspired, and when we sing, we are inspiring others. Inspiration is a powerful step forward in cultivating hope and creating a better world.