. Wednesday, At the Bible Meeting | London Progressive Journal
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Wednesday, At the Bible Meeting

Thu 16th Jul 2015

‘Dylann Roof, 21…spent an hour in Bible study with parishioners at the nearly 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Church before opening fire on them’ Reuters, 19/6/15


‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come’ Corinthians 5:17


A young white gentleman has entered

Our Church; he pushes through the doors,

Letting in a slant of late evening sunlight

And a handful of jasmine flowers that,

Briefly, pool in the lobby.


He walks up the aisle and sits with us,

But apart. Our topic for tonight

Is forgiveness. We are considering

Corinthians 5:17; all are forgiven

Who are in Christ. This church,


I think, is like a vessel of His love;

Red decked, white hulled with

Wooden balconies to hold

His celestial crew. We set course,

With purpose, for the Promised Land;


Neither the mighty earthquake nor

The fires of men can dispute

Our course! Our visitor

Shifts on his bench, his hands

Tucked protectively under his jeans. Eye-


Contact does not come freely

With him; he stares at the carpet

But he is listening, at least. New

Blood, and from outside the arms

Of our community, is always


Welcome. The Pastor speaks of

Redemption and sin; the young man

Glances at the exit then slowly

Up to the easy brilliance of

The chandeliers, as if unsure of


Which offers the absent comfort

He craves. His face returns

To his intensive study of the

Floor; unblinking, uninhibited.

Time was when this church


Built a revolt. Sedition burned in

Our hearts and eyes, and

A righteous vengeance to defy

And rectify the eternal wrongs

That the White Man had


Visited upon us in His name and

Their commerce. The flame

Faltered and change came slower

Than the fires that once burnt

This church to naught. Change


Has not come yet; but anything

Is better than nothing. And what

Does this young visitor signify?

That we are free to associate? His

Separateness jars; his dress and his


Manner say he is here but he is

Not here, too. He looks over his

Shoulder at the entrance as if to

Pace out the steps of his leaving,

Which will be presently. In the


Slave Mart museum nearby, there is

An illustration for the benefit of

Slaveowners on how to whip a

Pregnant slave face down so as not

To blight (devalue) the unborn


(future slave): dig a pit to hold the

Swell of the belly, it instructs.

I wept when I saw it first, and

I still weep now when I recall the

Purity of that utter conception of


Evil. Tonight, I mentally imprint

The face of the unseen slaver upon

The face of the young white man

Seated among us; it does not seem

Out of place, after all these years.


And then the Pastor calls for us to

Share. There is a pause, and the

White Man stands and reaches

Into his jacket pocket. But, as bibles

Fall to the floor and pews are tipped


Backwards, it is clear from

His face - has always been there

From the start - that he has already shown

Us what he has to offer us, under the

Fractured lights of the grand chandelier


Above

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