Rosa Parks became known as the mother of the civil rights movement when she strategically refused to give up her seat on a bus in her home of Montgomery. When asked why she did it all, she famously said*: “My cup of endurance runneth over.”
Me too, Rosa Parks. Me too.
My cup ran over the day my eyes were opened to the many layers between me and the justice my own body has never received.
My cup ran over on the days I chanted with my city, my country: “I can’t breathe.”
My cup ran over when I read defenses of Harvey Weinstein and the many assaulters whose stories have been famously surfacing these days.
My cup ran over when I walked into that church in Sandy Hook and tried to figure out how to comfort grieving families who had lost their children.
My cup has run over for years.
And you know what? God did that. Not the violence. But hear me now: I fully believe that God filled my cup to overflowing. If you’re unfamiliar with the scripture Mrs. Parks was quoting, it’s from the 23rd Psalm. It begins with important words to remember: “The Lord is my shepherd.”
And here’s where it gets tricky: it says, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Well: I want. I want all of this to stop. I need it to stop. But listen on. Because the Psalm continues: “Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over.”
Maybe you, like me, have thought that a cup that runneth over is filled with dollars and wealth. But God does not, will not, has never anointed with money. God anoints with something completely different: power. Oh no, not the power to destroy. But the power to love into repair, into wholeness, into righteousness.
Rosa Parks’ cup ran over not with fame, recognition, or wealth. Rosa Parks’ cup ran over with the power of God to bring empire to its knees in the hotbed of the Confederacy.
*Editor’s note: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. most famously referred to this scripture in reference to Rosa Parks in his book Stride Toward Freedom : “Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'”
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Hear more sermons from The Rev. Kaji Douša at the Park Avenue Christian Church website.