Good Monday Beloved,
I find that this morning I seem to be at a loss for words. (insert snarky comment here!). In all seriousness, I am stuck with my own words from yesterday, stuck in the “in between space”. That space which acknowledges the need to discriminate between those with whom we can be in authentic relationships and those with whom we find no way. Truly, sometimes I confound myself!
But, upon further reflection it occurs to me that perhaps removing ourselves from toxic relationships is indeed a form of being in relationship. The well known physician pledge to “do no harm” is perhaps our best approach. If we can recognize that this means no harm to others AND no harm to ourselves; embracing empathy for others AND ourselves; loving others AND ourselves; seeking peace and justice for others AND ourselves, then we can embrace our human limitations while also remaining faithful to acknowledging the indwelling of the Divine in all.
So I offer you today’s “aha” moment about discipleship: Perhaps, living in the tension, the in between space, of striving to be the best human we can be while longing for relationship with the Divine is our greatest calling.
Jan 18 – 25
“I and many others, we have been hollering Trump is a racist,” she said. “Trump is a dangerous racist who stokes and speaks to those impulses in his most ardent followers. This isn’t economic anxiety that he appeals to, that he speaks to in his voters. It’s white supremacy. And, until this nation really deals with white supremacy and how dangerous we ought to know that it is, there will be another demagogue who eventually rises in his place.” Dr. Carol Anderson, Emory University Professor and author of “White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide”
Good Monday Dear People of God,
Let me begin by thanking all of you.
Many of my colleagues, here in the Rocky Mountain Conference and nationwide, would never attempt to state, post or send out the above quote to their congregations. They would be afraid of repercussions from their folx claiming separation of church and state and preaching politics from the pulpit. You, however, understand that justice issues- especially racism-have been politicized in order to keep us afraid and to uphold white supremacy. It’s ok to mention MLK in church but not ok to pick up the call to dismantle racism and racist structures. Kind of like its ok to mention Jesus in sermons but not ok to actually hold ourselves accountable to pick up his call to dismantle unjust systems! But you get this, which makes my job that much easier! AND, it also makes you leaders in this work.
I know it is exhausting hearing about racism (imagine what it must be like for those who have to live with it 24/7!). I know that the bulk of my sermons, at the very least, make reference to racism as the original sin of this nation. I know it’s uncomfortable, annoying, and painful to be confronted time and time again with our complicity and denial. And I know that we must endure and do the work if we are ever to allow ‘justice to flow like a river’.
The COVID-19 pandemic is continually presenting us with myriad of challenges: it is invisible; affects some more and differently than others: it mutates unexpectedly: it exists in all places around the globe: it puts all people at risk of its symptoms: it is transmitted to all who are exposed whether they know it or not; it is DEADLY whether one is symptomatic or not; it tends to affect, dis-proportionally, those who are most marginalized; it cannot be contained until all take it seriously, receive the vaccine, follow all safety protocols, and consider the well being of others. And even with all of this there is always a chance of recurrence. This is more than just a good metaphor for racism. It is a parallel virus–presenting with similar symptoms and with the potency to kill–physically, psychologically, spiritually- whomever it infects.
A new administration will not solve this issue of this particular ‘virus’. Increased military in our cities will not solve this riddle. Reading books and having conversations will begin the journey but it won’t be enough. Signs on our lawns will state our intentions but will not in and of itself make us anti-racists. It is true that all of this is certainly necessary. And, what will keep us in this journey, what will move us in the right and just direction is our penchant for compassion, empathy, humility, desire for Justice, willingness to listen, perseverance, love of God and all creation–everything you said yesterday!
My friends, let me finish as I began: Thank you: For your willingness to be on this journey; for recognizing this is a more than just one day, one month a year issue; for allowing me to push us outside and away from our comfort zones; for recognizing that while we are working for inclusion and equality, many of our siblings will not experience this until we all are free; and for also realizing that our own salvation is woven into the liberation of all God’s people. As always, it is humbling to be with you in this work.
Jan 11 – 18
Good Morning Beloved,
Well, last week was not the week off for which I had hoped. But I’m guessing you know this already. For many people in this country, and in others for that matter, what happened in our nation’s capital came as a great surprise and head spinning shock. We expect this to happen in other countries with histories of unrest, but never in ours. Not the U S of A. But, to be clear, I was not surprised at all. In fact, the only thing that shocks me is that the level of violence we saw didn’t happen sooner. And believe it or not, in this historical event which has unmoored so many of us and left so many bereft of any comfort, I find hope.
Let me explain…
For those of us who have been on the path of seeking justice, we have been listening to and watching those who have historically held the power: those who have never been pushed to the margins because of the color of their skin; their sexual orientation; gender and gender identity; or religion (other than Christian nationalism). Even with evidence to the contrary, many in this country still point to the white nationalist march in Charlottesville in August 2017 as a ‘one off’ event, or an event that only happens “in the South”. However, for those of us paying attention, who are committed to learning our real history, who have been listening to voices in our own city and congregation speak of injustice, we shouldn’t be surprised. We have seen white supremacist militia show up with sniper rifles to racial justice rallies right here in downtown these past years. They’ve propped themselves atop parking garages here in our city and focused their little red dots on any of us who spoke at these protests. We, as a church, have been on the receiving end of emails, phone calls, FB posts, and even attacks on property and persons by those who are incensed by our signs, our flags, our vision and our mission seek justice for all. There is nothing new here other than the voices have gotten louder and those of us with privilege are starting to pay attention.
So where is the hope in all of this chaos?
I firmly believe that what we are witnessing is evidence of the death throes of a dying evil which has been at the heart of who we have been as a nation. If John Pavlovitz is correct, and I believe he is, “this nation was first founded on genocide, erected on colonialism, built upon slavery, and maintained by racism”, and is now on the cusp of a re-birth. I see this as an evolutionary process which is attempting to shed the old, undesirable skin of injustice and become what we have always thought we already were! In Christian terms, we are on the precipice of entering into a closer realization of the Kin-dom. This will not come easily. All of us will be afraid to let this holy change occur, desiring instead to hold onto the mythology that we are already the greatest nation in the world. But truly, if that is our proclamation we are very off base, for we cannot serve two masters. Sadly, I do think we will see more violence as this death knell continues. And I don’t think we will see the full fruits of our faith and labor in our life-times. Still, the tide is shifting and as with all tides, this one is one its way out!
So, hold tightly to your faith: to that which sustains you, challenges you, wraps you in the knowledge that all we do, we do for our Beloved and for her creation. Knowing you all as I do, I can unequivocally state that we were called for such a time as this. I am so very honored to be with you on this part of our journey.