Rep. Justin Pearson’s Easter message before being expelled from the Tennessee Statehouse

I will confess feeling pretty low this morning, as I awoke at 12am, when an errant clock radio blasted the BBC sharing sad headlines from Tennessee. I reflected on how, Rev. Doctor King was arrested and placed in a Birmingham Jail for parading without a permit.  Yesterday, in Jim Crow like fashion, our state representatives disenfranchised the voters of our state’s two largest cities for failing to uphold House decorum rules as when they protested gun control.   After Communion on Maundy Thursday, I slipped out to find one of our members listening to Memphis Representative Justin Pearson preach on the Statehouse floor just before becoming one of two black legislators expelled for leading a protest. 

I wept as I awoke and replayed Pearson’s words, but as I transcribed them and reread them throughout the day I have found my hope and resolve increasing:  “I remember that on Friday, the government decided that my savior Jesus, a man that was innocent of all crimes, except for fighting for the poor, fighting for the marginalized, fighting for the LGBTQIA, fighting for single mothers and fighting for those pushed to the periphery. My savior, my black Jesus was lynched by the government on Friday, and they thought that all hope had been lost… How is it that we still have hope and faith in democracy in Tennessee? How can we have hope? We hope because we don’t quit- from the bottom of slave ships to cotton fields we do not quit. Now, I don’t know how long this Saturday in the state of Tennessee will last, but I’ve got Good News: Sunday always comes, resurrection always comes. Resurrection is a promise and a prophecy!  We are still here and we will never quit.” (transcribed and adapted from Tennessee House expels Rep Justin Pearson) 

On Easter Sunday a portion of my sermon revolves around Jesus’ Easter promise “to go ahead of us”.  That Resurrection promise and prophecy to lead us in new directions is echoed in Jesus’ Great Commission: “I will be with you to the end of the age!”  We must not lose hope, we must not quit, we must keep resisting oppression, waging peace, and building God’s kingdom of justice, love and welcome. God is not done with us yet! I hope you will  join us Sunday!  


Pastor Paul 

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