April 10- Day 41 of Lent

OPENING PRAYER: Loss is Indeed our Gain (Walter Brueggemann)

The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless.
We are pushed and shoved.
And we do our share of pushing and shoving
in our great anxiety.
And in the middle of that
you have set down your beloved suffering son
who was like a sheep led to slaughter
who opened not his mouth.

We seem not able,
so we ask you to create space in our life
where we may ponder his suffering
and your summons for us to suffer with him,
suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.

So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,
when we are driven to denial —
not to notice the suffering,
not to engage it,
not to acknowledge it.
So be that way of truth among us
that we should not deceive ourselves
That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.
We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.

Amen.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: APRIL 10, 1958

Loving v. Virginia Trial Begins

Loving v. the Commonwealth of Virginia, was a case where defendants Richard and Mildred Loving were charged and convicted in 1958 for the felony of miscegenation.

As lawyers presented their arguments beginning on April 10th, 17 other states also remained staunchly opposed to banning legislation that prohibited interracial marriages. The Loving’s, who choose not to attend their trial’s proceedings because of the vitriol and toxicity involved, were asked by their lawyer what message they wanted conveyed to the justices during the proceedings, and Richard simply responded saying: “Tell the Court I love my wife and it is just not fair that I cannot live with her in Virginia.”

The Loving’s were married in the District of Columbia on June 2, 1958. Their legal trouble began about a month later, when they returned to their return home in Virginia. At approximately 2 a.m. on July 11, 1958 the sheriff and his deputies barged into the Loving’s home, and broke into their bedroom as they were sleeping. The sheriff shouted “what are you doing in bed with this woman?” Mildred Loving responded, “I’m his wife.” She then pointed to the framed marriage license displayed on their dresser. The document read: “Richard Perry Loving, white, Mildred Delores Jeter, Indian.” The officers then dragged the Loving’s out of bed, shouting profanities, and saying how miscegenation would never be tolerated in Virginia. They couple was arrested and jailed.

The Loving’s were charged with being in violation of Virginia code 20–54, which outlawed marriages between “white and colored persons,” and code 20–58, which banned the loophole of going out of state to marry with the intention to return and cohabit as husband and wife. Time magazine did a feature story on the case and it revealed that  “the original legislation, which became the Racial Integrity Act on March 20, 1924, defined a white person as having only Caucasian blood. The Virginia ruling class, however, claiming descent from Pocahontas and John Rolfe, successfully lobbied the legislature to revise the definition to include what became known as the ‘Pocahontas Exception,’ meaning that those with no more than 1/16th American Indian ancestry would be legally considered white.”

While the public has historically believed that Mildred Loving was African American, author Arica Coleman, who wrote the book The Blood Stay Pure: African Americans, Native Americans and the Predicament of Race and Identity in Virginia, revealed that Mildred’s racial perception was inaccurate. Coleman said “while researching my book, I spoke to Mildred Loving, who died in 2008.  And she reported ‘I am not black,’ she told me during a 2004 interview. ‘I have no black ancestry. I am Indian-Rappahannock. I told the people so when they came to arrest me.’”

There were two landmark cases in the 1920s where defendants successfully argued within courts that they were of white-Indian only ancestry and therefore were not in violation of the law when they married white people. In 1930, legislators, fearing that blacks would use the Indian claim to subvert the law, the courts alerted the legislation to restrict the Indian classification to Native Americans who lived on two reservations: the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Reservations.

The case was retried in the Supreme Court, after the state of Virginia found the Loving’s guilty. The Supreme Court concluded that distinctions drawn according to race violated the 14 Amendment. The Virginia law, the Court found, had no legitimate purpose “independent of invidious racial discrimination.” The Court Supreme Court rejected the state’s argument and the justices unanimously agreed that the Loving’s had the constitutional right to be wed. On June 12, 1967, proscriptions against interracial marriage were officially declared unconstitutional.

SCRIPTURAL REFLECTION: EPHESIANS 2:14-22

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

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 #day41

You may close with the following:

Lord have mercy,

Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy.

CLOSING PRAYER: A Prayer for Holy Monday (Revised Common Lectionary)

“God of steadfast love,
light of the blind and liberator of the oppressed,
we see your holy purpose in the tender compassion of Jesus,
who calls us into new and living friends hip with you.
May we, who take shelter in the shadow of your wings,
be filled with the grace of his tender caring;
may we, who stumble in selfish darkness,
see your glory in the light of his self-giving.
We ask this through him whose suffering is victorious,
Jesus Christ our Savior.”

Amen.

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