Beloved St. John’s community,
The world is watching Minneapolis as Derek Chauvin’s trial begins this week. This trial seems to have become a referendum on the state of systemic racism in our country. Will anything like justice prevail? There is much that is at stake. There is the critical question of whether our country can face and tell the truth—the truth about this incident, and the truth about the utterly countless individual and systemic choices that have make it possible for a white police officer to kneel, with sadistic indifference, on the neck of a black man pleading for his life until he became silent and eventually died.
Last year, after deeply exploring Jesus’ Way of Love, St. John’s committed itself to centering the work of racial healing and justice in our church, because we believed then and now that we cannot be faithful followers of Jesus without doing so at this place and time in history. But what does that really mean?
Pastor Paul Slack of Liberty Community Church in North Minneapolis helped advise us as we, a predominantly white congregation in Linden Hills, were exploring this last year, and he said something to me I’ve never forgotten:
This work is not so much about responsibility, as it is about love. You must always emphasis this, and never forget it.
To faithfully follow Jesus in Minneapolis in 2021 is not only, or even primarily, about accepting the responsibility of dismantling systemic racism—even though white people are most certainly responsible for creating and maintaining systemic racism. It is about responding to the call of God in Christ to love. The Beloved Community means that we are not “helping” anyone; we are seeing our beloved neighbors and responding to the call of God for dignity, freedom, worth, and flourishing for them and for us and for all people. Of course, this does involve dismantling systemic racism! But to do so from a place of love and relationship opens us up to the strongest power of the universe, that flows through us, that is a well that can never run dry.
If you were to look at Minneapolis this week and, instead of just asking “what is my responsibility here?”, start by asking, “whom is God calling me to love, and how?” – how do you think God’s Spirit would answer you?
How do you hear God’s Spirit already answering us?
Faithfully, in Christ’s love,