Posts Tagged #racism
Parable of the Talents: To whom much is given, much is expected.
You are I have been given the absolute best gift, a life in Christ. God’s expectation of us is to lead by living this as a community of faith, the body of Christ, the church.
Far too many years the church has been working to please and be congruent in the world, yet we are called to be in the world and not of the world.
For too many weeks I have come before you acknowledging the reality of division in our denomination and world and the world has convinced the church that it too is to be guided by politics. This is not our calling.
Our calling is to be the moral voice, and backbone that informs and shapes the world. It is this higher goal, the greater gift, the largest sum of talents that God is calling us to be FOR the world.
So when we see the terrible injustice of racism in the world around us we need to see it as God sees it and not just a single politic talking or fighting point.
Racism is the abuse of power over another person or group of people based on the color of pigment in the skin, and/or the perceived value of a different culture.
The reality is that there is one race, the human race. God sees us all as children of God’s creation.
The world divides us for purposing of power and control with the goal of control and self-interests.
So, what are we to do?
Protest and Signaling, raise awareness. With great solidarity we want those who have no voice to be heard and held up. The origin of the BLM was not to say that lives black persons are the only lives that matter but call for black persons to be valued as others are also valued.
The difficult part is that the message has become a political fund raising, power brokering, leveraging organization that uses racism as its power source, which is nearly the same as the racism they are supposed to be fighting.
Here is the test about ending racism. If one group of people are using another group of people to gain power over them in the name of race, it is racism.
It’s would thing to be a noisy gong and clashing cymbals making waves, protesting and gaining attention. The more vital is what we do after the light is turn on and everyone see what is dark and light.
Have you experienced racism? I have and I am a white southern male.
As a pastor working with a near by black pastor who was starting a new church in the community. (a community that had doubled in size in three years to have 95% black citizenry.)
My white church was less than 200 members, had ample facilities for the small black congregation to meet on Sunday evenings at our building. The other congregation offered to rent and pay the entire year’s utilities for the opportunity to meet at a time the white congregation no longer used the building. It appeared to be a win-win.
My administrative council met to discuss and vote on this proposal for shared ministry. It was the first agenda item. The other pastor and I laid out the plan and the chair of the SPRC said, (and I quote) “There is no way those (n*word)are going to have the building over my dead body. Put that in the minutes.” He followed that with this: “Not only do I reject this proposal, I propose that we reduce the pastor’s salary by a 1/3 effectively immediately for suggesting this, all in favor?” They had a secret ballot and voted 15-1 not to accept the proposal and to indeed reduce the salary immediately. My DS did not offer support and said I should have known better. I moved to a smaller church. All of ordination piers to this day make more and have more contributed into their retirement, but none of them have make the same choices I have made.
(I share this not to make you feel a particular way about me, but show that DOING the right thing effects our live-in ways the world does not support)
It’s one thing to talk about racism it is another go with the consequences of making the stand. The answer is not making a louder voice, it is taking intension steps toward being the community of faith God has created, saved, calls and empowers us to be if we are will.
The frustrations that run so high come from what we are shown in the media. The media does not show us the hundred of black persons being killed in cities like Chicago every year.
The choice to see only certain example of injustice will never solve the problems of racism.
As every sincere research person in every discipline of study will affirm that any problem is simply one variable, not just one symptom, not only one factor. Racism is not only about skin color. It is about evil, misuse of power, corruption, deception, as well as economics, education, opportunity, and ideologies.
While having better laws, politicians and law enforcement in place does not guarantee the absence of evil, corruption and deception. And while we can promote better education, opportunities and economics, there is no certainty that evil, corruption and mis-use of power will be held accountable.
We are a globe community of sinners. At times we are all guilty, evil, prideful, power-hungry, selfish.. right? There many parts: Laws, leaders, enforcement, education, opportunities:
But there is something that need to be the foundation of all these and it is not something governments and civil organizations can solve.
It is singularly God who is needed. The core, root of racism is a failure of humanity to trust and follow God.
The answer is for God’s people to recognize God’s higher calling is not only entrusted to use through Jesus Christ, it si
But for better understanding, say that all the right people and rules are in place. The world, our society, our communities are expected to live at this higher standard… and here is how we get to the ACTION phase of dealing with Racism:
1. Take MLKjr at his dream and stop seeing each other as a white person or a black person. See each other as people.
2. To continue to use these words is a simple way to keep racism alive. (Green boy story)
a. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
b. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Philippians 4:6
c. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
d. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
e. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7
3. As a community we become KOINONIA – “drawn together by intimate participation in Christ.”
In the weeks ahead we will explore what it means to be KOINONIA as Rock Spring UMC.
I ask you to pray this prayer for yourself, the church and the world. “Holy Spirit, draw us together as we participate in fellowship and community in Jesus Christ.”
Where we meet and share Christ we will not find the racism has any power for we are one in Christ, one in fellowship, and one in life.
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go–the demon has left your daughter. So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him.He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. [NRSV]
The Politics of Racism:
It is in influx of racially motivated incidents AND the fires fueled by political factions that our United Methodist Council of Bishops has asked us to address the topic of Racism this Sunday. They ask us to 1) acknowledge that racism is a sin and to 2) affirm the church’s roll in eradicating Racism is to be a priority. I find this passage that is typically remembered for its emphasis by Jesus on miraculous healing, is an interesting perspective on dealing with assumptions and prejudice, regarding racial divisions.
The passage is about seeing and hearing Racism.
First, the passage is about Jesus healing people from different political and geographical regions.
Gentiles of Syrophoenician heritage, Folks from Tyre, Sidon and the Decapolis regions.
We generally focus on the healing miracles and skip over the very thing we need to hear and see in the passage:
Might Jesus be a racist?
So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going. [NRSV]
I love this passage, but it is so much more powerful remembering the setting and context of the storm on the sea.
On the Tail of Miraculous Blessing: 12 Baskets for 12 Disciples
- Think of the times that God has blessed us in the past.
- Remembering the witnesses of our past and others.
- Keeping our current storm in the context of where God has guided us before.
- If we look only at the storm in the present, we see only the fear, grief and lack of control.
Life in the Storm: What are our current storms?
- Marriage and Divorce
- That is a good starting list..
This is why we start with the context of where God has been revealed in the past.
Time to make a list of 12 examples where God has blessed, loved, forgiven, showed-up in our lives:
- God showed up in the backyard of a house church in Monterrey, Mexico and called me to preach.
- God showed up in the worship service and fellowship at Camp Glisson in the rock chapel.
- God showed up to surround me in love through my father and grandmothers and a dozen churches.
- God showed up to broaden my heart and mind in seminary study and worship.
- God showed in the lives of children in Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Moscow
- God shows up nudging me to pray, call, contact within two hours
- God showed in ideas that I think are my own but God reveals them to you and when you share them, I am confirmed.
- God shows us when someone is looking for God to speak and I have nothing to say and God’s words come rolling out.
- God shows us to convict, cleanse and correct when I have messed up.
- God shows up when I pray asking for direction
- God shows up when I put myself in a place of listening and reflection
- God shows up when I lay aside my mind and worries and come to worship and praise.
Making the a List as an act of preparing for my storms and your storms.
The disciples did not ask for faith lesson, they were tired, needed a retreat-vacation and the work interrupted,
and when much needed break was in order, they are overwhelmed by a life-threatening storm.
Jesus is in the storm with them.
When they invite Jesus in, the storm is over.
The Lesson: The sooner we invite Jesus in the boat, the less time fear leads our lives.
To go back to the list of fears:
- Politics: We can’t be ostriches, we must be involved leaders and prophets
- Racism: What builds our community and what divides us?
- Terrorism: We love the person but denounce the behavior
- Economic: Discern where our heart/faith clings fast?
- Marriage: Are we Godly, not only at the wedding, but throughout the relationship
- Divorce: Acknowledge marriage is sometime not repairable, but angry people are hurting all around
- Drugs: This is maybe the biggest storm that affects our families
- Grief: Loss of loved ones
- Death/End times: What is our part in the larger story? Where is our foundation? Where is our love in loss?
This is a time, as disciples, we need to encourage instead of judge, gossip and distance ourselves.
- Remember where God shows up, Reminds us we are never alone.
- Remember we are in this together and need each others support.
- Remember the storms are coming, but in Christ, we will make it through.
Angels announced: Be Not Afraid, God is here.
Emmanuel: God is with us!