Beloved St. John’s community,
Sunday, October 18 is the Feast of St. Luke, the healer. St. Luke is said to have written the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus states his mission is “to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of God’s favor.” He was quoting the prophet Isaiah, but interestingly, he left out the last part of Isaiah’s scripture …. “the day of vengeance for our God” (Isaiah 61:2). Luke’s Jesus is a healer, through and through—a healer who refuses to continue cycles of violence, or to imagine God’s justice as punitive or vengeful. Only in Luke’s gospel do the stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son appear. Only in Luke’s gospel does a crucified and dying Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
If there is anything that our nation needs right now, it is healing. But to heal, we need to understand the nature of our sickness. In My Grandmother’s Hands (which I highly recommend that all of you get, read and absorb), local counselor and author Resmaa Menakem explains that much of America—white, brown, and black people, including police and public safety workers of all colors—are traumatized. He explains that white America came to U.S. soil, many of us originally fleeing from trauma in Europe. When I lived in Belgium in high school, I went to London quite a few times, where I visited sites like the Tower of London, which contained the English government’s official torture rooms for centuries, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which had vivid, life-like wax depictions of English medieval torture. Today’s TV show “Game of Thrones” resurrects vivid images of the kind of violence that was commonplace in England for centuries, for entertainment. We are people who have experienced trauma, in our bodies, for many centuries. Unhealed trauma too often becomes a source of ongoing violence toward others—in the U.S., especially toward black and brown bodies, and also to women, LGBTQ folks, the police, and others.
Jesus’ Way of Love is for healing, above all things. But it is not only black and brown bodies who need healing; as Mr. Menakem explains, the new science of epigenetics shows how traumatic memories are passed down in the DNA of white bodies also. What if we could stop and receive the healing our traumatized bodies need? What if, like Jesus, we could stop the cycles of violence that have raged unabated in our cultures, bodies, and history for far too long?
The Dismantling Racism team at St. John’s is concluding summarizing what we have heard from you about what we think God’s Spirit is calling St. John’s to do next, and we will present that to the vestry and to all of you soon. But the bedrock of this is to continue what we have already described as a “lifelong journey”—a pilgrimage that involves healing for each one of us, white, brown and black alike.
As we move toward Sunday, the Feast of St. Luke the healer, I’d invite you to make some space to allow a swell of kindness and compassion to arise from deep within you, where the image of God resides. Allow this kindness and compassion to let you see yourself and others clearly. How do you see yourself and others operating out of a deep-seated fear? What if you could ask the living Spirit of Christ, the Healer, to begin to heal your wounds, and to flow through you to become healing for others? What if we as a St. John’s community could make healing a central focus of our communal life, in Jesus’ name?
With love and compassion, faithfully,