This week’s guest blogger is Rev. William David Nunez, a local Diocesan priest at Diocese of Christ the King and Community Building Coordinator at IBA Boston. Rev. Nunez attended our recent worship night on Boston Common, and reflects on his experience below.
You can follow Rev. Nunez’ blog at http://ancientfuturecoalition.blogspot.com
On August 19, I saw the power that abides in the midst of love and unity as I stood next to other ministers leading a march of over 40,000 people in Boston against hate and racism. Love was overwhelming and tangible everywhere you stood. People along the sidewalks would stop and give us water, ask for prayer, give hugs, wave their hands, send love gestures from their apartment windows.
I must admit, what really shocked me in this march was the reality of hate and racism. To stare in the eyes of hate brings such fear to the soul: fear of what’s to come, fear for our kids and the next generation that will soon be leading us into the future. As we arrived at the park where the free speech rally had just took place, I saw a group of men staring at me with a lot of hate. One of them spit on my shoe while the others mumbled words I couldn’t clearly hear but their face were filled with anger as they looked at me. Even vested in my black cassock and wearing my cross did not prevent the eyes of hate to look at the color of my skin, spitting on my shoes, mumbling words of hate. All I kept asking God as I walked was, is this what my kids are going to have to go through?
I left that march with such a heavy awakening, with my heart whispering every two seconds, “we must do more”. It just isn’t enough to meet on Sundays for a worship experience or have small fellowships in our homes once a week, and it isn’t enough to pretend hate and racism doesn’t exist because we haven’t experienced it personally.
So what do we do next?
That is the question that haunted my heart after that march. I saw this event someone shared on FaceBook titled“Peace for the City” by UniteBoston and decided to support because prayer was definitely something needed after that march.
Needless to say, this event was God’s answer to the question that haunted me. As I stood in the midst of the crowd in the Boston Common, enjoying God’s presence while a band composed of people from different denominations worshipping together in unity and love, I couldn’t help but look around. Everywhere I placed my eyes all I saw was people crying, praising, praying for one another, some standing, others kneeling, but everyone enjoying God’s presence in that park. A wonderful breeze brushed through us and at that very moment I felt peace…
This experience reminded me an ancient traditional Christian greeting, “The Kiss of Peace”. The New Testament refers to it as the holy kiss (en philemati hagio) and the kiss of love (en philemati agapes). It is beyond an act of greeting: St Augustine in one if his sermons calls it “the sign of peace” but also calls it “a powerful sacrament” because the kiss of peace is the visible sign of unity and love of Christ on earth. No matter if you’re rich or poor, a kiss is a universal act of love.
This expression of the Holy Kiss is still a part of worship today in many traditional churches and even in some Protestant churches. It was even believed that saints would share the holy kiss with one another before their martyrdom.
Why is all of this the answer to my question of what to do next? Martin Luther King once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The early church understood this: that even though our hearts may know we are called to unity and love, this corresponds with an external act will seal our belief.
Unite Boston made the love of God visible in Boston on August 26th and God’s peace paid us a visit because It is only when we come together to love one another, that God’s peace will show up. Our unity that night was heaven kissing earth and God saying “Peace be with you” and us responding to one another “and also with you.” God kissing us while we responded by kissing creation. This is what a sacrament is all about, making heaven visible to humanity. There are so many things we can do but if we all just start by loving one another, breaking down walls of denominational separation and coming together in unity, God’s shalom (peace) will always be amongst us, in our communities, and in our city. Keep up the good work UniteBoston!
Prayer for the City of Boston
Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.
(Augustine, 354 – 430)