The past few days I’ve struggled to find words as I’ve watched our country explode from the underlying racial tension that has been brewing for far too long. I’ve prayed for the families of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Ahmaud Arbery … that God will comfort them in the midst of the unthinkable loss of their loved ones who should still be alive today.
Tomorrow we celebrate the day of Pentecost. It’s the day we recognize when the Holy Spirit, which had been promised by Christ, descended upon the 120 or so disciples and followers of Christ. It’s the day that we say the church was born. It’s the day when everyone within earshot could hear and understand in his/her native tongue the message of Christ’s love proclaimed. It’s the day when more than 3,000 people believed in Christ and were baptized to go forth in that love, living as Christ calls us to live, working for justice, respecting and welcoming every human being as a beloved child of God.
Unfortunately, we followers of Christ haven’t fulfilled that mission. There is still so much work to be done. I realize as I write this that it’s going to sound so cliché, but it’s the song that’s been playing in my head these past few days. I keep hearing over and over again Michael Jackson’s I’m Starting with the Man in the Mirror. If you’re unfamiliar with the song, Google it. It’s one you need to know! The lyrics talk about seeing injustice in your midst and ignoring it as you walk on by. They talk about stopping to reflect on your own actions (or inactions as the case may be), and then vowing to start with yourself to make the change. We each have a part to play in making the world a better place, a more equitable place, a less frightening place for our brothers and sisters of color.
Today, I’m starting with the woman in the mirror. I’m asking her to make a change. I have to work on myself and my own implicit biases. I have to model for my children (who are probably teaching me more about love and acceptance than I am them) a way of life and love that knows no bounds. I have to work to teach them and others who know me to celebrate the diversity of all, to recognize that we are all created differently, and to understand that there’s beauty in that. God did not create us differently so that one race could dominate another. Our human sin did that. Our human sin caused the systemic racial injustice that white people perpetuate. We’ve got work to do. Hard work! We’ve got to stand for and with our brothers and sisters of color. We can’t just sit idly by thinking that the death of another black man or woman is a tragedy, but that it’s someone else’s problem to deal with. It’s everyone’s problem, and we’ve got to stand up. If you’re struggling with ways to change your own habits and practices, you can begin by reading books that open your eyes to the racial inequalities all around us. Some of those include: White Fragility, How to Be an Anti-Racist, and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness. You can also support black-owned businesses by shopping with them.
Today, I’m praying, ‘Kyrie Eleison! Come, Holy Spirit, come!’ Come, Holy Spirit … convict us to stand up to injustice. Come, Holy Spirit … inspire us to work as hard as we possibly can for change. Come, Holy Spirit … ignite within us a wildfire that cannot be contained and is fueled by our desire for the respect and dignity of all people, especially those who’ve been imprisoned on the margins of our society. Come, Holy Spirit, come!!