taking the words of Jesus seriously


Continued from Part 1: https://www.redletterchristians.org/?p=16004


• round 3


Your blood seems to be the culprit in all of this. It restricts you.


Inadequate blood flow to the eyes affects this world’s vision so much so that a boy holding a toy gun can be pegged as a grown man with a real weapon.


Who would have thought that a black male sans/with neon orange could pose a threat?


America has thought ahead.


Or at least your mommy is trying to do so.


Tamir Rice did not have orange protection, though perhaps orange was not completely absent from the imaginary that targeted and eventually killed him. Maybe orange was seen on his body. When people saw this twelve year old menacing man, did their eyes dress him in orange?


Like Tamir, unfortunately an orange jump suit would suit you, too. What is worse is that I would rather see you wearing orange than black wearing you or red announcing your arrival to the other world. I would rather see you behind grey bars instead of hearing your red-blood curling screams hurling you towards a black death.


Your screaming scares me, Kai.


When you play, you scream in delight. It is your language of a transcendence that mere words cannot capture. Your throat must speak its untamed tongue.


You love screaming – it is your life-song.


Yet, fear is my song – it is the only thing that I hear nowadays.


I have learned to be afraid of your joy, of your life-song. Your screams will never solely signal delight for me.


I am afraid that some in the world will not want to hear or learn your song, precisely because it is coming from you.


For others, your screams will need to be the foundation of their life-liturgy. Your screams may need to be the very song they need to hear in order to ensure their safety. Your screams might color their hymns of security and sacred shelter from that which they imagined you to be so vividly that your death seems to be the only and obvious choice so that they might live.


It is faith, Kai.


And some believe in it.


They truly believe that your brown is a prelude to paranormal activity; and they refuse to have their houses haunted.


Black believes differently. We have been atheists forever; we have to be.


• round 4



I have no idea what can save you.


Waiting does nothing.

Time does not help;

In fact, time, hurts…


…for, I know that every moment that you are alive,

You grow closer to becoming threatening.


I lament the fact that you will be tall,

That after you eat your vegetables hoping to be big and strong,

A cruel blade might cut you down.


It is so sad that your stature will make food taste differently.


We are in an era of insanity –

I have no idea what is happening.


I have no idea when you became a symbol of anarchy.


Kai, I cannot save you.


It hurts my heart to say that things obvious to this world –

bright orange and green colors,

a small stature,

even being in public spaces

– like parks (which you love)–

may not keep you here.


What does it matter that you come from a family of faith?


Jesus cannot save you from this body of death.


Lord, save you from this body of death!


Most days I have no idea who I am praying to.

To whom should I devote my hope and pleas?


Where should I put my prayers?


Should I pray to the police,

to gods of border-keeping,

and distinction making?


What offerings should I bring to these enforcers of supremacy?


You appear to be a pivotal figure chosen for death,

But you are not Isaac.

There is no ram in the bush for you.

There is no other alternative.


You are the ram,

You are Isaac –

You are the symbol of all things that are marked for death.


Why is this happening?


Did some god instruct this world to demolish you all one by one?


Is public execution and private fears,

the stuff of good faith?


Be warned, Kai:

You are marked for death.

The labels are too strong.

Your mommy’s love,

Your daddy’s warnings,

Your auntie’s praying can only do so much.


You are at the mercy of whoever holds a gun.


So, I will give you all my kisses now.

I will exhaust you with my hugs.


I will puzzle you with my picture taking,

For I need memories now.


And I will have to force my prayers to mean something –

Because I cannot take another flood,

Especially of tears.


I will ask –

In cry

In prayer,

In wordless hope

– What about the promise?


God promised –

No more floods.


With blood flooding the streets,

My being must refute the false god of this world,

And hope that God is to be believed.


Promises are supposed to bring animals caught in bushes

And colorful arches in the sky in times that feel eerily close to death.


So take a good look at rainbows, Kai.


They are supposed to be your indicators of life,

Reminders of that transcendence your fascination holds,

for they hold the colors you hold so dear.


And for me they hold promises that are bigger than this world.


They hold the voice of God,

For you,

For me,

For us.


Yes – we have found our religion.


Let us pray to rainbows.


A God that colorful must be worshipped.


So I confess: deep down,

I believe something that my good senses chastise me for.


I believe something impossible

– Something that my instincts confirm based on nothing…



I believe that this God can save you.


In love and life with you,

Auntie Tomi


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