Time come.Marvia Lawes, Time Come: Spirit’s Warning Wail
It come. It come. It come.
Pentecost, Sunday May 31, 2020 was like none that I had ever experienced. The lines above, “Time Come…”, in something of a plaintive wail punctuating the early morning air. It was the chant that took hold of me and caused me to abandon the sermon notes that I had prepared to share as my Pentecost sermon. That was not how I had envisioned starting the day. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one bright and beautiful Pentecost morning, I would be questioning my sanity. This strange chant had me doing just that. I was unable to record my sermon. So I stopped resisting and surrendered to the experience.
Time Come! Allowing the Message to Come Through
That morning I felt like a very special message came to and through me. “Time come,” was the simple yet profound message. As a preacher, I have always lived by the philosophy that every message I bring to my hearers, saying ‘thus says the Lord’ must first speak to me. Sure some things might not literally apply, however, I must first sense the universal truth of that message as having implications for me as a member of the human family. Thus, when this message came saying, Time Come it immediately resonated with my spirit. This is did because I can identify in so many ways for myself, that a watershed moment had arrived for me during this pandemic. Additionally, I could see the import given the trends in the global conversation around how the pandemic has been showing up racism against persons of African descent.
And without knowing exactly what the message meant in a literal sense, I felt agreement in my own spirit as I listened back to the message. The chant is quite haunting and deeply moving. I came away with the conviction that I had received confirmation that the pandemic has brought us to a life changing, world altering moment. The murder of George Floyd in the US, and the subsequent protests that broke out signaled a tipping point in global affairs. Change was on the way.
Pentecost, George Floyd and Global Unrest
The Day of Pentecost arrived 6 days after the murder of George Flloyd on 25th May. The Black Lives Matter protests sparked by this murder, were spreading around the world like wildfire. The global protests took on a life of their own. The resistance would not be quelled. The world knew this was unlike any other protest, in recent history. In essence, Time Come!
Here in Jamaica Pentecost arrived 4 days after the murder of Susan Bogle, on 27th May. Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) soldiers carrying out an operation in her community, shot Susan a disabled woman and a mother. The soldiers kicked off her door and shot her in her bed, where she was alone and asleep in her house. Jamaicans were angry too, just not enough to mount a protest like that in the US. We mostly voiced our protests on Social Media and on the airwaves of local radio.
Eventually, from Thursday 28th May to Saturday 30th May, some Jamaicans took to specific areas of Kingston, namely in the vicinity of the US Embassy, Ligunea and Emancipation Park, New Kingston. They registered their protest in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement in the US and joined in the global call to end police brutality and call for far reaching reforms in law enforcement around the world.
Pandemic and the Injustice of Inequality
Pentecost came some 7 months into the global Covid19 Pandemic that had driven the world, including the church into taking shelter. A number of issues rose to the fore that highlighted deep pre-existing social inequalities in some of the world’s most developed countries. The Caribbean, and Jamaica, faced these issues as well. Racial inequality rose pre-eminent; and the most negative impacts of the COVID19 pandemic disproportionately affected African-Americans.
China began reopening its economy and videos surfaced showing the horrible treatment of Africans and persons of African descent. They were evicted from their homes, let go from jobs, prevented from shopping in stores, and harassed on public transportation. Africans were harassed with racial slurs, and some especially the men were attacked and beaten. In Britain, Black persons were being infected at a higher rate than whites. Their death rates were also higher. Their jobs placed them at greater risk. The USA, with New York as the epicenter, saw nightmarish daily death tolls. Once again it African-Americans were dying in far greater numbers. Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean saw the racial dynamics manifest in its social classes. Less than half of the population could not afford to stay home and ‘shelter in place’. A significant number of persons were at greater risk of exposure and infection.
Thus, by the time Pentecost arrived the Spirit of Truth blazed a trail of reckoning around the world, sparing no continent. The outpouring of frustrations over centuries of injustice since the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The demands for equal rights and justice for Black people in every part of the world, even in black majority countries such as our own is a cry that has found another critical moment in time.