“There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently chained.”
These are the words of civil rights activist and scholar W. E. B. Du Bois, whom we commemorate today as a holy man. He was the first black man to graduate from Harvard, served as head of the NAACP, and was a man of faith. His work contributed to the liberations of the souls of black folk and as such the souls of all of us.
Over the past few months members of St. Paul’s have been involved with The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org). When we gathered in community we sing movement music such as:
We are a new unsettling force and we are powerful
A new unsettling force and we’re here
A new unsettling force for liberation
We’ve got nothing to lose but our chains
As this song proclaims and W.E.B. Du Bois illustrates for us: it is our time to rise, to find liberation from the chains that bind us. We are all bound by chains of some sort, our souls kept captive by fear and uncertainty, anger, hatred, defeat. But we were not created by our loving God to live in captivity. No, we were made to be free, to live in hope and love.
Our task is to seek this freedom and liberation, not just for ourselves, but for all God’s children. Because while even one of us is held captive we all are. I have found a space for this work in my own life by participating in the Poor People’s Campaign. Maybe you have too. Or maybe you fulfill this task in giving your time to one of the many outreach ministries here at St. Paul’s. I hope the following words will move you to recommit to the work of liberation.
“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.” – W. E. B. Du Bois