(On December 8, 5pm our church joined a coalition of partners to organize a vigil for Marcus Deon Smith at the site where he was killed. Marcus was killed by four Greensboro police officers on Sept. 8, 2018. A few of our members Reggie Weaver, Brandon Wrencher, Erica Wrencher, and Marcus Hyde led the community in advent reflections on Marcus’ untimely death, singing, and chanting. See the video link and manuscript of part of the message below.)
VIDEO: The video begins with Marcus’ sister’s remarks, then Reggie framing Advent, then Brandon sharing brief reflections; around 11:40 Erica leads the community in This Little Light of Mine; around 15:00 Marcus also reflects on the facts of the case in light of Advent; towards the end Erica leads us in song and chants as we marched to City Hall. Thanks to our friends with Greensboro Southerners on New Ground for the video!
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room made for them in the inn.
This Christmas story which was meant to bring freedom has been so sanitized throughout the ages. I come from enslaved ancestors that refused to use the Bible to oppress, but instead to set people free. So here’s the truth . Jesus’ poor, refugee, brown family was seeking help. Rome was happy to register Jesus’ family to get their taxes. No room was made for the humanity of Jesus and his family. On September 8, Marcus Deon Smith repeatedly asked for help. He was killed by four Greensboro police officers and the negligence of local EMS. Local non-profits and the city have received money to feed and to police Marcus. But on September 8, no room was made for Marcus Deon Smith’s full humanity! Through hogtying and lying, GPD said to Marcus Deon Smith there is no room in the inn. Through standing by idly, local EMS said to Marcus Deon Smith there is no room in the inn. Through their delays and silence, City Council said to Marcus Deon Smith and his family there is no room in the inn. But we have come here with Marcus’ family to declare that there is room in this city! And so this city, and especially those of us who are Christians and people of other faiths, have a final opportunity, a moral responsibility to make room for Marcus Smith in his death through meeting the demands of his family and this community. When this city makes room for Marcus Deon Smith, his family, and this community gathered tonight, they make room for love. When this City makes room for Marcus Deon Smith, his family, and this community gathered tonight, they make room for justice. When this City makes room for Marcus Deon Smith, his family, and this community gathered tonight, they make room for God!