Lord God, during this Lenten season, teach us to come before you in humility, lamenting the signs that your kingdom has not yet come in its fullness. Help us to acknowledge our finitude and failings, and guide us into a journey of remembering rightly, repenting honestly, and responding faithfully. We long for the coming of your mosaic kingdom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, and invite your Holy Spirit to lead us now.
THIS DAY IN HISTORY: MARCH 30, 2010
Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar murdered by Rasheen Everett
*Trigger warning: This post contains descriptions of a brutal hate crime and acts of violence
On March 30, 2010, Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, a 29-year old Latina transgender woman, was discovered dead in her New York apartment. An autopsy and further investigations later found that three days earlier, a man she had met online named Rasheen Everett had attacked Amanda in her Queens apartment, choking her repeatedly, pouring bleach on her body, ransacking her home, and leaving her dead while leaving with stolen property.
Everett was arrested in Las Vegas a month later and brought to New York to stand trial for second-degree murder, second-degree burglary, and tampering with evidence. During that trial, the defense attacked Gonzalez-Andujar’s identity and character, claiming that Everett killed Gonzalez-Andujar upon discovering that she had male genitalia and painting her as a prostitute and drug addict. However, the trial also exposed Everett’s history of intimate partner violence, including acts of choking against an ex-girlfriend.
When a Queens judge eventually sentenced Everett to 25 years to life in prison, his attorney (John Scarpa) argued for a lesser sentence by stating that Everett had not killed somebody “in the higher end of the community” and that such a long sentence should be “reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals.” The judge overseeing the trial eventually scolded Scarpa for such statements, saying, “This court believes every life is sacred.”
Violence against sexual minorities is not new, yet recent reports and high profile attacks such as the massacre at the Pulse night club have highlighted the intersectionality of hate. For example, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence found that while only 38 percent of the U.S. population identifies as people of color, 60 percent of survivors of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes identified as such. Moreover, of the 54 recorded cases of transgender women killed between 2014 and 2016, 47 were women of color. In the face of outright violence and discrimination, many sexual minorities also face police profiling and brutality, barriers to receiving medical care, difficulties with workplace protection and housing, and a myriad of other attacks upon basic rights and civil liberties.
SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: 1 JOHN 4:16-20
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
RESPONSE OF LAMENT AND CONFESSION: Please spend some time in personal response, crying out to God with prayers, poems, songs, or art that expresses your lament and confession. If you feel led, please share these responses with others, using #lentenlament #day30
You may close with the following:
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.
CLOSING PRAYER: A Litany to Re-shape the World (David R. Weiss, 2003)
The world as it is, is an affront to the longing of God for justice.
The world as it is, is an affront to the People of God created for wholeness.
The world as it should be unsettles our imaginations and haunts our hearts.
The world as it should be is restless to break into the world as it is.
Power grounded in solidarity is God’s gift to transform the world.
Power guided by love is God’s capacity to make us instruments of change.
We are selves only in community.
The dignity of each self rests on the integrity of our relations with each other.
We are each treasures to ourselves and to our communities.
We share the task of calling forth the truth of each for the good of all.
Day by day, we bring the Wisdom of God to bear on the chaos of the world.
Day by day, we bring the Love of God to bear on the isolating fear of the world.
And day by day, we return to taste the Joy that is both first and final.
Matching tears with laughter, matching work with play; matching political struggle with intimate love.
Because the Kin-dom which is not yet, already is for sure.
-From A Place in God’s Heart, A Place at the Table: Worship Resources for the Welcoming Church Movement