And so amidst the grief and the lament, a stubborn hope persists. For right alongside the disturbing images of demagogues, contortions of faith, and military police using excessive force in the face of peaceful protestors, I see so many beautiful displays of repentance and solidarity. Sustained protests in all 50 states, made up of every shade of black, brown and white, coming together to see justice roll like a river in our streets. Profound images of protestors and officers taking a knee, crowds singing in unity, and children chanting in the streets. And while it will take much more than symbols or prayers to disrupt systemic racism and many rightly criticize a false peace, I pray that this movement toward one another continues.
For it is empire that wants to divide and conquer. It is a system of scarcity where violence, greed and fear reign. We fight one another and in turn, we all suffer. And in a time of extreme polarization and division across our country, we are all bearing the brunt of our fragmentation.
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...This is the inter-related structure of reality.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Structured racism MUST be abolished but we can't stop there! A tree has roots and so does the current American dilemma. The root of our problems stem from a warped Western worldview that values hierarchy over the dignity of every voice, binary choices over living in wise compromise or becoming comfortable with tension, and individualism instead of community ethics for the common good..." -Randy Woodley
Saint Paul said it like this, "If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." -I Corinthians 12:26
My prayer of repentance begins with acknowledging that as a white woman of privilege, I have not suffered with my black and brown siblings who are suffering.
Distance is a privilege that we must surrender. -Sunia Gibbs
My prayer is that we will LEAN IN.
Lean into the discomfort. Lean into the learning. Lean into the listening. Lean into the grief and the horror of solidarity. For those of you like me who are white, you may just be waking up to your complicity in these systems of oppression. You may be struggling to know how to join the fight for justice. I too struggle. What I can say is that we must lean in. Repentance looks like giving up the privilege of distance and listening to the black and brown leaders who have been in this work a long time.
Racism is traumatic. Black people are experiencing a collective trauma. Being heard is necessary to our healing. -Latasha Morrison
Know that this is a costly and arduous journey that must go beyond toxic tears and social media spurts void of true repentance. As followers of Jesus, we are called to repent, to live another way, and to join in the revolution of love. So let's roll up our sleeves, do our work, and lean in.
Know that The Practicing Church is committed to the long road of repentance, the dismantling of white supremacy, and the co-creation of the beloved community. Though we admit our profound ineptitude and ignorance to do so, we fall upon the leading of the Spirit who alone can bring the transformation needed in our hearts and our communities. And over the coming weeks and months, we will commit ourselves to journey together.
And so as you lean into your own discomfort this week, as you perhaps attend an anti-racist webinar, or dive into your anti-racist book, attend a protest, or have hard conversations, I leave you with this blessing from writer, pastor and author, Dominique Gilliard who contemporized this classic Franciscan prayer for this kairos moment.
May God bless you with holy anger at white supremacy, police brutality, and racial oppression, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from systemic racism, xenophobia, and anti-blackness, so that you may sacrificially reach out to them in love, learn how to stand in solidarity with them, and work alongside them to transform broken systems and structures.
May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we really CAN make a difference in this world, so that we are able, with God's grace, to help the Church do what others claim cannot be done: truly become an interconnected Body, where when one part suffers, every part suffers with it. -Dominique DuBois Gilliard
by Jessica Ketola