Sharing a powerful exegesis from Michelle Higgins, who serves the community as Director of Faith for Justice/Coordinating Team at St. Louis Action Council. ASE!
Humanity is a sacred vessel, bearing treasures wherever we go,
whether or not we realize it.
Ours is a testimony of Blackness embodied, pursuing a treasure we were once told to forgo, forced to forget. Set on a course of discovery from the ports of our invisibility, descendants of Mother Africa who now people the Americas still have a mountain to climb. Stony the road we trod.
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom, and storm; Hebrews 12:18
After the great liberation and Exodus, when Moses had gathered all the people at Sinai, they trembled at the greatness of The Presence. The mountains were wrapped in smoke. There was lightning and thunder hurling through the skies, sounds like trumpet blasts and the sight of fire descending upon the mountain of God. The whole terrain shook. The sights and sounds were inapproachable; here was a God of glory. Here was a mountain that cannot be touched.
Here the Lord informs the people: “I am not human. I have made you in my image and stretched out my arm to deliver you from oppression. I want you to live in the way I will show you.”
The writer of Hebrews prophecies of a new mountain where God’s glory shines; where jubilation and abundance are the testimony of the peoples gathered there. Access is now the mark of God’s glory. Here the Lord informs the people: “I have become human. I lived among you and stretched out my hands so that you might touch me and know my empathy. I want you to live in the way I have shown you.”
If Sinai is the mountain of God, Zion is the mountain of the people. But both places direct us to see God alone as the only Spirit that can cause humanity to tremble.
In the months after Vonderrit Myers, Jr. was murdered by police officer Jason Flanery on Shaw Blvd. in south Saint Louis, police descended upon neighborhoods in the city with fire and smoke. They struggled to enforce fear and foolishness (what they called law and order), crushing residents and activists into blockades, then demanding that we “go home” as they waged war on our streets. They hunted our brother and shed his blood in the street. They constructed lies and shielded a murderer, they painted Vonderrit as a monster. Flanery later admitted that he was just out looking for “who the players were that night”, since he presumed that “groups of people loitering with no destination often commit crimes.”
Was he so deteriorated by his own hatred that he couldn’t see that WE ARE AT HOME? Vonderrit had reached his destination. It was Flanery who was wandering, loitering with no purpose, and bound to commit a crime. These false and failed “protectors”, they tried to build a mountain and make themselves untouchable, tried to make us tremble. They didn’t know that we tremble for no one. We cannot be blinded by paranoid thunder and artificial authority, for we have seen the glory of access. We have touched the truth.
We are mountain of God.
What witness is housed in our bodies, these lorded and fabled casks of bronze?
We are Ebenezer, a rock of remembrance:
for the groans of our ancestors
and the triumphs of our forgotten kings.
We fear not to shut down the shit that broken systems call justice.
We are stones hewn from Zion’s mount,
we touch and embrace one another,
to bear witness of our access to our once feared God-self.
We are the sword of God’s resistance:
for the accomplishment of vengeance without fear.
False testaments fed to us by white supremacy (those fragile stories of frenzied, fearful worship) now give way to a testimony we can touch and feel. The Black storm now an embodiment of the divine. As God’s fire dwells among the people, God’s thunder becomes the people; and the people become God’s great cloud of smoke. Our Blackness is God’s thick darkness — we cannot be approached, neither seen nor touched by those whose evils have corrupted their sight.
Come to this mountain, dark, strong and sweet.
Come and see, this mountain of Zion’s might.