Week 14 (June 10, 2020)
Greetings Sisters and Brothers:
I miss you. And that fact that I miss you, and cannot see any of you, at least in the near, near future, kind of annoys me. I’m not uniquely impacted by any of the craziness of the last few weeks, but the fact that we’re living alone through these days (yes, with everyone else) makes me anxious, impatient, annoyed, and generally, very, very grumpy. I am not a happy camper these days, and this discomfiture is a direct result of being cooped up overlong, and having to deal with utter and total inconvenience. (Kind of makes one forget how blessed one is....)
The protests of the last days have at their heart a legitimate evil. Our spirits are all disquieted at the prevalence of racist brutality, no matter where it is found. And now we face yet another evil. Vilification of the innocent.
In such matters, and perhaps more than anything else, we seem to want to blame someone, anyone, for this terrible evil. I have seen this happening with respect to police forces around the country. There is no gainsaying the fact that racism is real and exists, resulting in everything from benign neglect, racial profiling, overt abuse, and far too often resulting in murder, for reasons based somehow on race; even in contexts where the credo should be “to protect and to serve.” This is a true saying, and to deny it, is to willfully ignore reality. But then, we come to logically absurd conclusions that an evil perpetrated by a number of police officers, implies guilt for all?!? Pervasive yes, but I believe it to be grossly inappropriate to paint all police with the same brush. Remember those who paid respect at the funeral for George Floyd, and so many others who knelt in solidarity with those protesting injustice?? If systemic, institutional reform is required, it should of course be encouraged. But let reform be based on education and the conviction that there is a capacity to learn, especially among those who reject injustice.
That said, I think that my theological take is somewhat more convicting...not just of police, but of us all. It is my considered opinion that the problem is centered most truly in our inability to see that those of us who are white in America, are all, without exception, subject to the sin of assuming that we are somehow better, or more entitled, than those who are persons of color among us. I have been most certainly guilty of this sin. Add to this the tragic truth that this sense of privilege occurs in the vast majority of cases, without our even noticing that it has. We are part of a culture that privileges the white. Period. Even for those of us who have studied and traveled extensively, and who count among our friends, people of color; even for those of us who have been blessed with multiracial families; indeed, the lot of us, still have within us the inclination to presume racial superiority.
What is most important therefore, is to recognize that this proclivity exists in us all to varying degrees. It is part and parcel of the sin with which we constantly struggle, and for which (by the way) Jesus died! It is most certainly not just the special burden of the police! It is most certainly not just among the military! This evil exists within us all.
It seems reasonable therefore, that to combat this sin, we seek not to vilify or blame any one particular group. Recognizing our collective culpability is not only more appropriate, but probably a more effective way of seeking and finding some resolution.
The personal limitations that I have elsewhere underscored, are shameful to me. I am ashamed that I took advantage of the acquiescence offered to me because the color of my skin, my “whiteness.” But I am learning. I am committed to learning, so that my heart might be changed, practically and really changed, so that I may truly embrace the gift of forgiveness won for me in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, let us not be polarized in the political and partisan insanity that seeks to blame everyone...anyone else; rather let us be Jesus in the world. And as servants of the living God, let us be accountable for the undeniable. And let us, as disciples of Christ, change the world! We can and should change the narrative. Let us live love with everyone around us, rejecting evil wherever it is found! Live love brothers and sisters. Live love!
This afternoon, our council executive met (by Zoom) to discuss how in view of the situation of COVID19, we shall open, procedurally and safely. Our council will meet next Tuesday evening to finalize the plans. All things being equal, and assuming we can equip ourselves as required by law, we shall be together again, hopefully sooner than later. We are grateful for your patience!
I hope you are doing better than I am...happier, less lonely....at least less grumpy. There is sickness in the world and that’s scary. There is injustice in the world and that’s discouraging. There is hatred in the world and that’s saddening. But brothers and sisters, none of these things are new. The people of God have always been born into such dysfunction. It is our sacred calling to bring the Good News in the face of the mess humanity creates. Let’s be Jesus in the world! Let’s serve and love and share, always...with everyone.
Be a blessing my friends, for you have been blessed so that you might be a blessing!
Stay safe and healthy and know that you are, as always, in Jesus’ hands!
- After worship, around 11 am, Darrell and Nancy Datte host our after worship coffee/donut fellowship time (BYOC/D) on Zoom, and look forward to welcoming everyone in our community. Please think about joining in and saying hi to your brothers and sisters. That gathering can be found here: