The contentious meeting was winding down and the City Council looked drained, as if the fivesome just wanted to go home. We all did.
Most of the crowd that had filled the council chambers to offer impassioned opinions and angry grumbling had left. Just a few folks remained, and the floor was opened to anyone who wished to speak.
Up stepped a couple of local ministers, who proceeded to extend an already long meeting with exhortations for Selma to find God’s peace.
That’s how The Christian Holy Week began in Selma, with church breaking out at the April 15 Council meeting.
The week ended on Sunday as Christians all over town celebrated their most important Holy Day on a beautiful Easter morning.
Easter Week. We let the kids out of school. We watch the Bears play baseball and the Warriors play basketball. We visit the coast and the mountains.
And many of us also spend some time in our churches, worshiping with our brothers and sisters of faith as we seek divine wisdom to help us negotiate a perplexing world. To be better human beings, to help create a better city and country.
The Biblical account of Holy Week — the days leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection — offers plenty of messages through stories of loyalty and betrayal, of death and resurrection. On Maundy Thursday we learn humility through the washing of feet. On Good Friday we learn sacrifice, by someone who gave his life for his beliefs and his followers. On Easter Sunday we learn about hope and rebirth.
The precursor to Selma’s Christian Holy Week came on Sunday, April 14 when the local Sikhs staged their annual Selma Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan festival that drew several thousand participants from all over California to the Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast on the southern end of town. Sikhism preaches faith in God, freedom and equality, standing up against injustice and sharing with others.
Similarly, Christians are reminded that Jesus of Nazareth offered this simple but powerful message to his disciples, and by extension to all of us: Love your God and love your neighbor. There are, he said, no commandments more important than those two.
And so, as Selma struggles with the fear and anger that accompany public safety concerns — and as we approach National Day of Prayer on May 2 — we would be wise to heed this prayer from Los Angeles rock band Los Lobos:
“Thank you Lord for another day.
Help my brother along his way.
And please bring peace to the neighborhood.”
And all God’s children say “Amen.”