I have been spending a lot of time praying, listening, and learning lately.
The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Brionna Taylor, and George Floyd, in addition to the imbalance of deaths of black people due to COVID19, have me listening even more intently. Listening to the voices of people of color, reading the stories not told in history books. I am reminded again the extent to which racism is pervasive in the systems of this country and the everyday lives of so many of its people.
I have to be reminded. I have to be reminded because I don’t live a life that forces me to live with that deadly reality on a daily basis. I live a life that means I have to be reminded of the regular and systemic oppression of others. I live a life of privilege.
O Lord, how long before people like me no longer must be reminded? How long before no one else dies because people who look like me have to be reminded? How long before we all recognize the sin of racism and work together with all of God’s people to make the changes necessary to end inequity?
During the past few months of COVID19 stay-at-home measures, I think we’ve all come to see ways that God is doing a new thing. Using Zoom, YouTube and Facebook to worship, we have stepped outside of our comfort zones, our comfortable sanctuaries. God has used this time of pandemic to push us outside of our buildings to see the work and ministry yet to be done in our communities. Some are even recognizing the many ways it means to be Church today as an adaptive change. The type of long-term change that will pull us into a new way of life as the church. As the youngest of four kids, my mom would occasionally kick us out of the house until dinner, just to get us out of her hair. I remember more than one of those times, standing in the street thinking, “Now what do I do”? I couldn’t go back in, yet I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Now that we’re here, many of us still literally outside of our church buildings, others with one foot back in and one foot out, now what? Confronted with the reminder that our society and communities are steeped in practices, laws, and policies developed to lift some people and push others down. . . . now what do we do? Can we see this as a time in history when we are being remindedagainthat people are dying because of these practices? How long O Lord must we be reminded? Recently, someone asked me what I thought about congregations going back to in-person worship inside of their sanctuaries. My response was this: I hope that the congregation will consider what it has done outside of its walls during this time before it begins to talk about going back inside of them. Friends, we have been inside of our walls for far too long. We have been silent for far too long. I have been silent for far too long. I envision Christ in the streets filled with protesters, in our homes sheltered-in-place, one foot in and one outside of our sanctuary, looking at all of God’s children and asking, “Now what do you do?”
Valerie Young serves as the Synod Leader & Stated Clerk for the Synod of the Sun, PC(USA). Read previous post here. There is a newly forming synod-wide Network for Dismantling Racism“seeking to open our ears, eyes, minds, and hearts to the atrocities of systemic racial injustice and its consequences; to equip and engage for transformation throughout society”. Those interested should contact Kristy Rodgers email@example.com Join the conversation and learn from resources shared in the FaceBook group: Synod of the Sun Cultivating Conversations PC(U.S.A.) 21-day Racial Justice Challenge: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/matthew-25/racism/ Consider engaging with the Matthew 25 vision, as a congregation, presbytery, or synod. https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/matthew-25/