This is a fantastic presentation by Obama – content, emotion, loud and quiet, fast and slow, encouraging and supportive, displaying superlative presentation skills. The content covers both that of a traditional eulogy and effectively a sermon on ‘grace’.
Points that made a special impact:
- Rev Clementa Pickney combined both ministry and public service (as a Senator) – he saw no distinction between the two.
- His focus was on ‘saving community’ rather than individual salvation
- Obama noted these features of churches such as AME where the shootings occurred: community centres where organise for jobs and justice; places of scholarship and network; places where children are loved and fed and kept out of harms way, told they are beautiful and smart and taught that they matter. A sacred place not just for ‘blacks’ and Christians but all people who care about the expansion of human rights, human dignity, liberty and justice for all. This is what church means.
- When reflecting on grace – grace is not earned, merited or deserved; its a free and benevolent gift of god; (through the shootings) God has visited grace upon us, a chance to see ourselves as we are, make the most of this gift;
- Lets not stop at taking down the Confederate flag (a symbol of racial subjection), but tackle racial injustices in school policy, poverty, hate, criminal justice, police bias, employment, gun violence – by embracing change through God’s grace, not returning to business as usual. [Particularly relevant for NZ] We have, quoted Obama, a deep appreciation of history but we don’t have a deep appreciation of others history!
With grace, by offering grace, by giving graceful, everything is possible!