A Pastoral Response: Every Black Life Matters

Beloved,

We are lifting up grace and hope for each of you today, as we navigate this time.  Reading news reports of brutality and injustice in our country is painful, especially when coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside this difficulty is the reality and possibility that comes as we follow the call to find our way forward together. 

It seems fitting that this spark is ignited during the season of Pentecost.

It is right that folks are inspired to name, protest, and right the wrongs that have pervaded our world for too long.

George Floyd died because a white police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes, constricting his airway. Breonna Taylor was killed because officers entered the wrong home when executing a search warrant. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by white men because he was exercising his right to exercise. 

Like the disciples in the upper room, many are afraid. Many fear that the change the world so desperately needs will not come. The change will come, is coming, from God, through the holy spirit and from the mouths of activists on the ground.  All people are called to the work of racial justice, regardless of race, background or comfort level. But before the disciples could go out and change the world, God demanded a change in them. God also calls for a change in all of us who are white.

Speaking specifically for those with white privilege: we are changed in our hearts by pulling out the poison roots of racism and white supremacy. We are transformed by listening to those who have been in this fight years before we thought to begin. We are initiated into the movement by the wisdom of people of color. Organizers have a saying: “Collect your people.” All of us have the power to collect our people: to have hard conversations with friends and family about unlearning the white supremacy that is ingrained in us and in our society.

To learn more and receive direction on how to begin, here is a link to a list of places to donate, leaders to listen to and ways to engage your whole family in the conversation.

Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Then he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

As Christians, our faith calls us to be unsatisfied in a world where an unjust peace is kept, so that just peace cannot be made.

Jesus beckons us to be makers of true peace, and to work and march for righteousness. From that righteousness, there is a kingdom of heaven where all of God’s children are loved and seen in their fullness. 

That kingdom is not some far-off reality – it is possible here and now. We are in a moment of inner and outer change and growth. But it cannot happen if God’s children do not choose it, march for it, work for it. People with privilege must be willing to be uncomfortable, to sit with pain, to listen deeply and honestly. The privileged must be willing to be transformed in our own hearts. Beloved South Church, the Holy Spirit is calling all of us, folks with privilege and folks without, to be co-conspirators in the work for justice for God’s people.

Let us listen, learn, love, and be changed by the voices of people of color who have long been arbiters of God’s kingdom. 

Let us no longer be satisfied by civility that calls itself peace. We know that there is much to do and even more to learn. Our prayer for all of us, this day and always, is that we will not grow weary, but we will be determined to be a part of God’s renewal and redemption.   

Love,

Dana, Alex, Jenn, Cathy, and
The 2019-2020 South Church Council