Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:12-17
I was speaking with a latino man from our group of worshipers, from our radical group of believers who believe we are called to be one body in Christ, regardless of our race, color, ethnicity, social class, a couple of days ago. He shared with me a story of racial profiling he had experienced just that day. He was stopped by a white officer who had heard an accusation from another white man. After some exchange of dialogue that included this person expressing his belief that he had been stopped as a result of racial profiling, and a wait of ten minutes while the officer sat in his car, this gentleman was let go–without a ticket. Why? Because he had done nothing improper.
At the time this occurred, he was angry. As he was sharing this story with me hours later, he was still angry. As a white woman who is well aware of her own privilege, well aware that a scenario such as his is very unlikely to happen to me, I was angry, too. Now that I think about it, we should have prayed together. But at that moment, we were both stewing in our anger and, to be honest, it is only occurring to me right now that we could have, should have, prayed.
We certainly would have prayed for him, this child of God who experienced this unjust act of racism and discrimination. We would have prayed for the person who reported him, this person who was angry and acted based on this anger. We would have prayed for the officer who would benefit from understanding his own biases and how they affect his job and the people he is here to serve. We would have prayed for me, a white woman who is part of a society and a leader in a church that reacts to racism and discrimination and even has a paper written about it, but is, after all, an institution that has not fully faced its own sin of racism and discrimination. (See the social statement from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America here (en espanol): Pronunciamiento Social and here (in English: Social Statement.
We all need to recognize our biases and racism that lead to the exclusion of people of color and people who live in poverty from our communities of faith. I need to recognize these things. Every day. Every single day. Not just because we are reacting to a horrific event, but because we are the ONE body of Christ.
Sobre todo revístanse de amor, que es el lazo de la perfecta unión. Y que la paz de Cristo reine en sus corazones, porque con este propósito los llamó Dios a formar un solo cuerpo.
As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body.
Just like many of you, I have read many articles and thoughts about what happened in Charleston. This was posted by a gentleman named Stephen Ray and I found it to be particularly pertinent. I don’t know him personally, but he granted me permission to to re-post this:
To all of my white friends and others of goodwill, when will the scales fall from your eyes so that you see that to the extent that you live in “white” worlds and proceed as if they are normal you are contributing to making Blackness an offense? By “white” worlds I mean public, ecclesial, and residential spaces in which there is near absence of Black people and our presence feels odd when we are there. This is a world that is not normal. It was forged in the sins of racial cleansing, redlining, and residential covenants and guarantees that each generation raised in it will further the sin of their parents in their own way. Part of what it means to be Christian is to see the the ways that sin has distorted and made deadly God’s creation and recognize that it is not normal. The thread which ties together the tragedies stretching from the murder of Trayvon Martin to the McKinney Texas pool situation to the murders last night at Emmanuel AME is the belief that it is “normal,” and not sinful, for these “white” spaces to exist and that some use of force is appropriate in their maintenance. Whether sane or not, when the murderer of those souls in God’s house said “you are taking over,” what precisely do you think it was they were taking over in his mind and where did he get the idea? I can’t tell you what repentance and contrition looks like if this is your normal, God and the Spirit can show you that. What I can ask is that you see that it is this “normal” world which places and keeps Black lives in jeopardy every moment of every day. That my friends ought not be normal in God’s world.
As Tapestry, we believe we are called to form relationships, intentionally, every day, with people who are different from ourselves. This is hard work. The shootings in Charleston are a stark reminder of the hate and evil that divide us. We pray for forgiveness for allowing fear and hate to overcome us. We pray for forgiveness for supporting a system that allows some people to be seen as being more valuable than others. Because we know we are all children of God created in the image of God.
We pray for strength and courage to practice a radical faith in a God who sees us all as beloved children of God who are meant to be holy and loved. We are called, instructed, challenged to put on sentimientos de compasión, bondad, humildad, mansedumbre y paciencia.
We give thanks for a God who walks with us in these times of great darkness. We give thanks for a God who loved us so much he sent his son to live among us and to die for us. We give thanks for a God who always, always, blesses us with hope in the resurrection of his son Jesus Christ.
And we continue to pray. I have found this book from Walter Brueggemann to be a good place to start.