God: “No Justice, No Peace”

God has made it crystal clear the way peace can be achieved: Those who want peace must first humble themselves. Second, the humbled people of God are ready to join together in prayers that will be heard by God. Together, God’s prayerful, humbled people will be enabled to authentically seek (and thus always find) power in the glow of God’s bright and shining face. Then they will have capacity to understand– and to turn from– their wickedness. As a consequence, God promises to hear, to forgive, and to heal.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

About Our Children

This morning I’m thinking about and praying for all our children of every race and nationality who are growing up during this turbulent time in our country and world and who are taking a stand for justice.

I am especially thinking about and praying for our children of color, and particularly our Black children who are so often targets, so often devalued, and our Black males even more so because of anti-Black racism which up to now has been relentless.

This morning I’m thinking about why that is so and whether it will ever end. When these recent murders of young Black men occurred, I felt the heavy weight of doubt that life for Blacks in this country and world will ever change, whether there will ever be full freedom, ever be a full sense of safety in all places and at all times, whether there will ever be the certainty of full acceptance, full inclusion.

As a Christian minister, I also felt the heavy weight of disappointment in organized religion for its lacking as a model of fighting for justice, for its lacking as a space where change is the norm.

This morning, I’m remembering the murders of many Hebrew baby boys in Christian scripture ordered by non-Hebrew men in power fearing the potential of those colored baby boys, the Hebrew males, destined for greatness. I’m thinking of the assaults by religious leaders—who did not want change—on Jesus, a man of color, who modeled the necessity of sacrifice and change.

But today I observe what others have also noted, namely that today’s protests are full of youth and the youth are people of all colors and the youth are protesting all over the world.

Our children have renewed my hope. I am praying for their united quest. Justice will prevail.

Can Racism End with Education? Then, Let’s Educate Ourselves…

God Is the Ruler Yet

Hearing of a school board banning Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man, I began thinking about taboo things forbidden to discuss, to touch, to know. The main character in Ellison’s extended metaphor discovers he himself is taboo, a nameless protagonist never seen as he really is, only as others see him. He’s invisible!

Sixty-eight years later in 2020, Black Americans must still contend with such invisibility! Ahmaud Arbery was seen as a danger, a target. His truth was invisible: a man with a birthright, out for a jog, enjoying the land, a descendant of one of the oldest families in Georgia, Americans who fought in the War of 1812, according to author Jim Barger. George Floyd was seen by those who killed him as someone less than human whose life was of no consequence. His truth—a promoter of Christian values who had relocated to Minnesota for a discipleship program, according to his pastor Patrick Ngwolo—was invisible to his murderers.

Yet, we’ve come a long way in many ways from where we once were but clearly not in enough ways and not with enough consistency, not with enough of an understanding of the sacrifices necessary to get us to where we all need to be.

Yes, we’ve come a long way. Many people from different races and faiths are now joining together to fight against the continued degradation of people because of skin color or because of any of the other differences that still divide us. And it does takes sacrifice.

Do the faithful in the body of Christ have a special understanding of the need to embrace sacrifice? Do the faithful in the body of Christ have a special appreciation for the grave need for the body of Christ to act on (not just talk about) the commitment of following Jesus by being vigilant in maintaining atmospheres of welcome where everyone can be seen, where everyone can be accepted as they are, where everyone can know that their human birthright is enough to assure them of a place at the table, where their lives matter? Can Christ’s body fulfill this calling while remaining segregated and silent?

We must build something new. Our churches must become places where radical inclusion is modeled for the world, where everyone is truly and fully welcomed in!

This is our father’s world, and we all must be able to feel at home in it.

Our God has made this world; oh, let us ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”