Moment For Mission
Today is day 372 of the 10,952 days Ricky must serve for a crime he did not commit. He was wrongly accused, unjustly incarcerated, and because of the color of his skin, received a mandatory-minimum prison sentence. As Ricky stood gazing out the narrow window of his prison cell, Ricky remembered the words of Mrs. Jackson, his third grade teacher. “Ricky, you are a good student and a nice young man. Keep up the good work and maybe you won’t become a statistic.” The statistic she referred to was the Bureau of Justice data that indicates one in three African American men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. Despite his best efforts including graduating high school with honors, he found himself exchanging his polo shirt and kakis as well as his college housing for a prison cell and an orange jumpsuit at the age of 21.
This year’s theme, #Reconciliation Generation: School Yards Not Prison Yards, is under-girded by Psalm 78 which reminds us of God’s steadfast blessings in our past and present, and God’s faithfulness toward restorative justice. God’s unfathomable grace toward each of us informs our courage to impact future generations for Christ’s shalom. As the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ,) we are committed to addressing racism as a sin and restoring all of God’s children to the fullness of their humanity. In doing so we acknowledge the beauty, delight, and triumph that have accompanied our struggle to become the reconciled community of God.
There is tragedy and triumph in Ricky’s story. Although Ricky’s conviction was never overturned, after determining he was wrongly convicted, he was released on the basis of good behavior, having served ten years of his 30-year prison sentence. For Ricky and for many others justice is not always swift, nor is it fair. For all of our children we must raise our voices to demand impartiality on their behalf. As well, we must commit to tell our children about the evil nature of racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, and any difference that is perceived as deficient. Then and only then, may we and our children become the Reconciliation Generation that builds School Yards not Prison Yards.
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Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. Psalm 78:1-4 (NRSV).
Written by Minister Tamika Montgomery, Reconciliation Ministry Intern 2013-14.