At this point I am receiving notifications from every brand I ever gave my email to, on their stance on racism.
As much as I would say “the stance of the church on racism is clear,” the history of the Church universal has not borne that out. This week, when the president of the United States ordered the use of tear gas to drive back peaceful protestors, in order to complete his threats of authorized violence by standing in front of the church with a Bible, he did so with at least some expectation that the “church” would stand behind him.
Therefore, let me be clear. Our faith affirms the sacred value of black lives. Black lives matter. Black people of all genders are made in the image of God, beautiful and blessed. The systems of oppression, that harm black bodies, belittle black potentials and incarcerate black futures are antithetical to the God of love. Our God is the God of the Exodus, who called the people from slavery to liberation. Our God is the God who came to earth, to stand with the suffering of the people. Our God was willing to die on a cross. It is a perversion of the gospel to use it as a tool of oppression, of violence, or of hatred.
And yet, we know that the institution of the church has not lived into this liberating hope. The history of propping up white supremacy with the Christian faith is long, consistent, and terrible. From the brutal histories of slavery, through Jim Crow, redlining, and more, the faith of liberation has been used as a prop, an excuse, and a justification for profound wrongdoing by those with great power.
If you look at our congregation when we are gathered together, you will see that we are a predominantly white church. This means that we have a particular responsibility to respond, as we see the devaluing of lives of color, the escalation of force by police forces, and the valuing of property over human life. It takes work to unsettle the narratives we have learned over a lifetime. And I know dear church, it feels like a lot to take on, when all the world feels unsettled.
We are called to center the narrative on black voices and amplifying the words of people of color. This Sunday for worship, we will be doing so by hearing the words of prophetic preacher, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III with his sermon “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Lament for Ahmaud Arbery.” This sermon was created for the church he serves, Trinity UCC in Chicago two weeks ago, and has become only more pertinent with the death of George Floyd.
Following worship this week, we will also be holding conversations in “coffee hour”, reflecting together on the last weeks and where we are at. Pastor Patty and I will be facilitating conversation as we reflect together, and I hope you can join us. We are also available to talk more individually, in the midst of this moment in our nation.
May God be with us in these days, open our eyes in our learning, give us the strength of repentance, and empower us to follow in the liberating work of love.
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