This evening over 500 people gathered at Portland's First Congregational United Church of Christ to mourn the death of James Chasse, Jr. My written remarks and a podcast of those remarks are below. There were numerous media outlets and local bloggers in attendance. Tomorrow, I'll link to some of the other coverage. But let me say that all the speakers brought James to life for those who were there. His family and friends did James a great honor with their comments.
Update: Coverage from The Oregonian
If your heart is broken and anger stirs your soul you are not alone. We gather tonight as a community in grief but committed to peace. And we demand both as Portlanders and as the people of God the justice that James Chasse, Jr. deserved in life and still requires in death. We should not be in this place tonight. But here we are.
Our responsibilities to the Chasse family and to all those in our city are clear: we must be Christ-like in our compassion. It really is not fair to ask for compassion when that would seem to be the last thing that James received the night he died. Yet broken hearts need healing… and compassion – and compassion’s twin which is love – has the power to mend that which is broken.
We hear throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament God calling us to be a people of justice. Our God is the one that freed the slaves from the Pharaoh and the God that declared that the least of these – the widow, the orphan, the poor and the sick – should come first. Where was God the night that James died? God was with James and as our hearts break, God’s breaks, and as we cry, God cries along side us.
There are no easy answers. Reform, yes! Justice, yes! Compassion and love, yes!
Is it possible that we can even in the midst of such deep and profound grief ask of ourselves hope? Hope for a world where every human is treated with dignity and respect? Hope for new treatments for those who suffer from mental illness? Hope that as a city we turn this great tragedy around and use it as a moment to accomplish great things in loving memory of James?
“Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” reads the Psalm (Psalm 30:5 NRSV).
Let tears flow freely tonight. But tomorrow and the next day and the next day:
….let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24 NRSV)
Use the below link to download the podcast of these remarks for your iPod or personal computer.
(click with the RIGHT mouse button on the hyperlink and choose “Save Target As” and save to your desktop or other folder – once downloaded click on the file to listen).