It has become a kind of national symbol, hasn’t it – this symbol of marching and protesting with hands held high. ( |0| =”Hands up – don’t shoot” ) It is in honor of Michael Brown, the youth that was slain just a week ago. According to most of the un-official reports – that was his posture when he was shot – hands in the air – no weapons here. Hands in the air – I am not armed. Hands in the air – I am not a threat. Maybe we will never know exactly how it all went down that Saturday night – hands in the air or running away or what. But it is true to say that this image (hands in the air) has been adopted as a symbol of protest, hasn’t it. Protest for all the racial divisions in our world. Protest for all the victims of violence at the hands of those who are supposed to protect us. Protest for all that is wrong and unfair and unjust in our world. And there is a lot that is wrong, and unfair and unjust in our world.
But I wonder, on this feast of the Assumption, if we, as a faith community, might co-opt that gesture to tell another truth, to tell another story, to unpack a deeper insight into life. And that would be this: What happens when we turn THIS gesture ( |0| ) to THIS gesture – ( \o/ = “Hands up in prayer and surrender”). It is a lot bit different, isn’t it?
This -( |0| ) is a bit defiant, isn’t it. Almost like saying: get away from me. Or come no closer. Or, it is like saying: “you are not going to move me.” ( |0| ) This says there is something between you and me, something that you should not cross, that you dare not step over. And this can be a kind of invisible barrier – like when we see those mime’s in their invisible boxes. (do the mime of the invisible box routine…) You can’t get in, I can’t get out…
But, when we turn it just so ( \o/ ), doesn’t that tell a completely different story. Doesn’t this ( \o/ ) say: “I need help/others?” Doesn’t it communicate very subtly: You are welcome here? Doesn’t it say that “We are all in this together?” And, when we use it in reference to God when we pray, doesn’t it say: I surrender all into your hands? Isn’t this ( \o/ ) the gesture that we know best in Mary, whose feast we celebrate today?
Many of the statues you will see of Mary is a kind of reverse – ( /0\ – rotate elbows until the arms are straight, hands pointing to the floor) Mary’s arms reaching out to us, her hands open to us – to pour out her love, the be the conduit of Jesus’ grace for us – to make sure that we feel loved and blessed and graced by her Son. This ( /0\ ) , when prayed by Mary, says to God – I am your servant. It says: “pour out your love upon me.” It says: “I trust you with all I am and all I hope to be.” It is that attitude that the church celebrates on the feast of the Assumption – that trust that God will then take ALL we are (body and blood, soul and divinity) into the life of heaven. And where Mary has been taken in grace, we hope to follow.
I suspect it may take a long time before ( |0| ) becomes ( \o/ ) on the streets of Ferguson. And it will take a long time to heal the wounds that the death of Michael Brown have left in our neighborhood. But here is what I would like YOU to do. Everytime you see this ( |0| ) in the news, on facebook, on You-tube, in the paper as you read the stories and remember the events of these days: Breathe a prayer, that by YOUR example and YOUR sacrifice and YOUR love, through the intercession of Mary, this ( |0| ) may become ( \o/ ).