Autumn is here! The season is changing its colors and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees. The green of summer is giving way to brown. Even the air feels different, there’s a “nip in the air” as my grandmother would have said. October brings memories for me of other years when every weekend had at least one soccer game to attend. The boys or girls would run onto the field, eager to play. Afterwards they were usually pleased with the time spent with their team, win or lose. But sometimes in the midst of the match a player would go down. A trip to the ankle, a collision on the field, a rough landing onto an unforgiving goal post – and all the parents watching the match catch their breath. Is he ok? Will she be getting up on her own? Does he need medical assistance? I can remember many times waving for my husband, Mark (whose medical first aid certification exceeds my own) to go running onto the field or to the sidelines to check on our son or daughter. While the player is down a whisper starts among the players on the field. “Take a knee. Take a knee…” and they do. Kneeling with one knee on the field they respectfully wait and often pray silently as the injured player is treated and then escorted off the field.
When the recent controversy arose about the US women’s national team soccer player, Megan Rapinoe, “taking a knee” during the national anthem, I recalled those October days watching my children play soccer. My immediate thought was not “how disrespectful,” but “how appropriate.” Our nation is wounded by the tension in race relations, and she had the courage to “take a knee,” to respectfully honor our nation’s wounded team mates, our fellow citizens, who have been unjustly treated or even killed because of their race.
When I see her “take a knee” I am stirred to offer a prayer, just like I did on those cold October days on the neighborhood soccer field.
One of the readings for Sunday, October 2, is from the book of Lamentations (1:1-6, 3:21-26). The reading itself is six verses of sadness about the present condition of God’s people in exile, and six verses of hope. After describing the bleakness of his time, the prophet Jeremiah wrote these familiar verses,
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
We, as children of God, join Jeremiah in having hope in the future even in the bleakest of days. We know the God who holds that future, and trust that the future is in faithful hands. Because our God is a God of justice, we know that one day, perhaps in our lifetimes, justice will prevail. Until then, we take a knee in the face of injury of all kinds, and pray.