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Anti-Racism ResourcesRector's Reflections


By July 16, 2020August 26th, 2020No Comments

Beloved St. John’s community,

We have listened, learned, lamented, and repented about the sin of white supremacy and systemic racism. Of course, these actions are not “one and done”; these are lifelong stances to which we are invited, as followers of Jesus. Last night during the Wednesday Zoom discussion, folks said they were both overwhelmed and hopeful, afraid and conflicted, moved and uncomfortable, impatient and challenged and optimistic.

How are you, today, in face of all that has happened in our nation, and given our “deep dive” into dismantling racism through Jesus’ Way of Love?

This week’s verb is “commit.” To what are we being asked to commit?

Today is the feast day of the Righteous Gentiles, those who risked their jobs, their lives and their families’ lives to rescue tens of thousands of innocent Jews during the Holocaust. They did so out of a profound conviction that they could not do anything else. They could not turn a blind eye to the monstrous violence and death around them, and so they offered life and healing and saving at great risk to themselves. But what motivated them wasn’t death. It was the beauty of the lives they were saving.

With all my heart, I believe we can’t commit to a negative, but only to a positive. A few weeks ago, I said that as followers of Jesus, we are not imprisoned by the legacy of cause and effect, but by the mysterious rhythms of death and resurrection. The death on the one hand is the slaughter of innocent black and brown bodies, including Jesus, and the totalitarian reach of systemic racism and white supremacy. What and where is the resurrection that can truly give us hope and inspire our commitment?

I believe we are called to commit to follow Jesus’ Way of Love as disciples, to understand this as an identity that transcends all others and which gives cause for hope and courage. As such, what we are looking for is simply evidence of God’s Spirit outside our walls, outside our community. We are called to discern where the Spirit is active and then go to participate in that action. If we can have eyes to see this, we will have cause for hope. For example, Don and Sondra Samuels in North Minneapolis have called for thirty days of praying for the Healing of the City. Yesterday, our own Dianne Pizey was at the prayer tent, when shots rang out across the street. Volunteers asked those who prayed to lower themselves to the ground / to hide behind a hedge. After it was over, they stayed to pray. Today, Don has also called for people to join him right there at the heart of the violence to pray. People of faith are gathering as a witness to the powerless power of God’s love, protesting violence, putting themselves at risk to ask for help and change, to be a prayerful presence in the midst of violence.

There is no playbook for becoming a disciple of Jesus’ Way of Love. But there are practices: turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest. I believe we are called to commit to these practices as a way of life and an identity.  And here is an anti-racism covenant to which we can also commit. Above all, let us commit ourselves to surrendering our identities and lives to a Power greater than ourselves who can restore us and our nation to wholeness, sanity and healing.

Let’s look for evidence of God’s healing and justice making and go participate in that, for the sake of love.

This week, please read Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Healing, Justice and Peace, chapters 6-8, the Epilogue, and the “Ten Theses” about Reconciliation as the Mission of God. This is about 56 pages. If you can’t read all of this, please focus on Chapter 8, the Epilogue, and the Ten Theses.

Spend daily time praying and asking yourself: what is the positive vision that inspires you? Where do you see evidence of God’s Spirit at work in your own life and in the world? Resurrection that transcends the powers of cause and effect, death, white supremacy and racism?

What is God asking you to commit to?

Please make a two minute video of yourself talking about this, then (1) email it to me, and/or (2) post it in the St. John’s community Facebook page.

Please take one small action every day in support of your commitment, and share it with others at St. John’s.