Faith Notes: A Word From Pastor Steven

Posted: Fri, May 29, 2020
“Racism is a lie about our fellow human beings for it says some are less than others. It is also a lie about God, for it falsely claims that God favors parts of creation over the entirety of creation. Given our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) [...]

“Racism is a lie about our fellow human beings for it says some are less than others. It is also a lie about God, for it falsely claims that God favors parts of creation over the entirety of creation. Given our biblical understanding of who God is and what God intends for humanity, the PC(USA) must stand against, speak against and work against racism. Anti-racist effort is not optional for Christians. It is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship, without which we fail to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.” ~ from the 2016 PC(USA) General Assembly anti-racism statement

I have heard people describe the killing of George Floyd a senseless act of violence. A black clergy friend said, “Call this heinous act of violence many things but do not call it senseless. It makes perfect sense for those of us who live every day in fear of this kind of violence simply because of the color of our skin. It makes perfect sense if you realize racism remains the primary illness of our country and most people are carrier of this virus, knowingly and unknowingly. It makes perfect sense if you admit racism is a gaping wound that has not been healed and continues to ooze fear, hate, distrust, discrimination and violence. And this wound cannot be healed unless we acknowledge it exists. To say the death of George Floyd is senseless suggests it is an anomaly when this sickness pervades every level of our life together. And this sickness cannot be cured unless we are willing to confess we have the virus.”

Jesus said, “What good will it be to gain the whole world, yet forfeit your soul?” Our souls and the soul of our nation cannot be restored until we confess we’re lost. James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Friends, I don’t want to try to offer an eloquent response to the deep pain, anger and grief on display in Minnesota and throughout our country. I don’t want to offer merely the words that love will win in the end. Today, I want to confess and ask for your forgiveness. I have let you down as your pastor. I have spoken against the evils of racism from the comfort of the pulpit. I have not challenged and equipped us, as those called to be the living, breathing presence of Jesus in the world, to the transformative work of understanding our own racism and white privilege and the work of dismantling racism wherever it exists. Anti-racist effort is not optional for followers of Jesus called to be peacemakers. Anti-racist effort is an essential aspect of Christian discipleship. I have failed you. Please forgive me. I vow to do better.

My heart is broken wide open. I feel deeply the pain of this moment. I also feel the pain of how easily it has been to turn my back on the far too many previous moments of racial violence. It says in Micah 6.8, “What does the Lord require? Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly before God.” Doing the work of justice participating in the healing and restoration God desires begins with humbly acknowledging our own sickness. Howard Thurman wrote, “You can’t stand in the midst of the world and struggle for fundamental change unless you are standing in your own space and looking for change within.”

Our mission statement is, “Creating Spaces of Grace to Cultivate Hope, Healing and Purpose.” If I am to be the pastor you deserve I must be willing to step into my own space confronting my own white privilege and confessing my own sins of racism and the need to change. I invite you to join me. The link to the Anti-racism resources below are a good place to start. If we are to courageously and constructively create spaces of grace where all God’s children are safe and can flourish, it is not enough to try to be “not racist.” We who claim to be followers of Jesus must take responsibility to be “anti-racist.” Precious lives that bear the image of God depend on us doing this work.

Let us continue to pray for the healing of our nation.

Grateful to serve you and committed to serving you better,

Steven

Anti Racism Resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/preview?pru=AAABcnb8h2Y*DDuPp68FCW48JDARZCLgTg&fbclid=IwAR1WiFgBFBdgJEfkFAYSUnsRuDjrzcHl520ryU2s5M-6L7paGkx-Za-fQt8