This is what the Lord God showed me-a basket of summer fruit. He said, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Amos 8.1-2 (NRSV)
Dear Cathedral Congregation and Friends,
I am fully aware that the quote above is not, in itself, particularly inspirational. Just before it, Amos stands up to an oppressive king. Just after, the Lord makes declarations about the hope of Israel and the destruction of those who systematically oppress others. In between, Amos has this soul dialogue with God. It's one of my favorite pieces of Scripture, and as I think of what to write you in the wake of the violence especially in the past few weeks, there is a futility to it that I find strangely comforting.
"That is a fruit bowl, yes." God then goes on to declare an end to the oppression, an end to the suffering, an end to the systematic oppression and discrimination. It's an end we haven't seen, and in recent weeks, we have continued to see the death of innocent and vulnerable people at the hands of police and the death of police. Again just this morning, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge. I don't have an answer, and when I look at the reading from Amos, standing adjacent to God and the king, Amos' declaration strikes me more than usual.
To stand adjacent to God. To stand in the very midst of God. To declare what God shows. To see nothing but destruction and losing and still hear God say and continue to declare that there is a hope. It is a distant hope. Often a strange hope, and it's a hope that lies in the midst of destructive oppression and the sometimes futile attempts to stand up to it. A call to declare what God has promised and to listen for what can be done to fight injustice and somehow bring about that promise of peace, justice, grace, accountability, hope, humility, and love... all at once and despite most outward appearances. In that moment, Amos utters, "Yes that is a fruit bowl," and then he listens to God.
In the Fall, we are looking at ways to have more intentional conversations about race both at the Cathedral and the congregation with various events and speakers. Things are still in the works, and if you have any insight or concerns, please reach out to me or to the leaders of the Congregational Anti-Racism Committee. On Monday, there will be a Vigil at the Church of the Intercession before the Rally for Justice and Reconciliation at Foley Square. On Wednesday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will facilitate a community discussion in Synod Hall on the impact of systemic racism in our neighborhoods. Details on all these are below, and I encourage you to attend.
Next week, I will have other things to announce - about children's ministry, Young Adult ministry, Homecoming Sunday, and all sorts of programatic things at the Cathedral and the life of the Congregation. In the meanwhile, I encourage you to explore this weeks opportunities, and as always, contact me if you need anything at all.
My prayers are with you all, as well as with those who have died - both with the police and those who have died at the hands of the police.
Mary Julia Jett
Interim Pastor and Vicar