We arrived late to church today, which is unusual for me. I like to get there in advance and acquire my familiar seat so I can worship close to the front. Better yet, I like to be on the end where my hands and arms can worship wild.
I don’t want to miss a moment.
As we walked in, there was surprising silence. Hundreds of hands held together across aisles throughout the room.
Immediately, I understood.
In this moment of silence our beautifully blended church came together to recognize the hurt and tensions which racked so many this week. Our pastors, black and white, stood side by side recognizing our need to come together with Christ in the center. With choked up voices we agreed how we all need Jesus and find unity at His feet.
Few words spoken grab our attention as we know we are called to live out reconciliation in our city during times which cry out for it painfully. Racial tensions are not new, but today, we have been made more aware of the underlying threads of turmoil.
When I look across the sea of faces ranging from pale white to deep black, I see a hurting community fighting through personal biases, questions, doubts, fears, and insecurities because the hope of Christ is real. Hearts surround together knowing how Christ’s power to bring healing and redemption is greater than all we feel and know.
Come, Lord Jesus. Guide us.
Never before have I felt the pain of my black and brown friends as much as I did this last week in the wake of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent more time over the last few years listening and seeking to understand. Perhaps it’s because our church continues to grow and to find ways to come together on the gospel over issues which largely divide us all, including race.
At the same time, I have friends (black and white) who are police officers and who feel the real impact of hatred and evil every single day. I grieve with them too. I know many are fighting to do the right thing even though those who’ve done wrong have caused perceptions to waver.
They all need our prayers.
We must remember evil is blind to color and position. The potential for sin is within all of us and we desperately need our hearts to Jesus not hate.
Last week, Pastor Morgan provided our weekly email, though it was slated for someone else to write while he spent time with his family. He stepped in, to step up. He wrote to lead us in remembering our hope without discounting anyone’s real fears.
After the moment of silence this morning, and prayer with more worship, we sat down to listen to one of our black leaders. He was scheduled to preach before any of the events of this week occurred. As he shared this powerful message on faith, this strong man wiped tears repeatedly. He recounted fears of losing his life and leaving his wife and daughter without him, then pointed to the source of our hope and how faith grows. .
I’m thankful for our church. I’m thankful for hearts being awakened to the pain around us even though many of us would rather stay numb and blind.
We can’t stay blind to injustice or chained to our fears if we want to move forward as a people.
Injustices and worldly sorrow began in the fall at the Garden of Eden and they will continue until the earth we know now is no more. This last week’s collection of shootings and protests has brought them to the forefront of our minds
Whether we are aware of them or not, they happen. What will we do with our awareness?
Change begins with each of us. The kind of change which begets real transformation begins in our hearts. One heart and one step at a time. It’s one of the reasons I’m passionately excited about the change my writing is taking, to cultivate a life well-lived so we can go from surviving to thriving. It’s why I’m beyond excited to release Unleash: Heart and Soul Care Sheets as soon as possible.
Awareness Leads to Action
In some ways, I’m thankful for the way recent events have brought things to light. My prayer is that awareness begets action.
My dear friend Susan Seay commented on my last blog post “Learning to Listen and Finding the Courage to Speak Up”. She noted the necessity of friendship’s being a safe place and something occurred to me.
I wrote last about “our” black friends because I live with an assumption that we all have black and brown and yellow friends. I forget, that I haven’t always had this, though I secretly longed to bridge that gap as a child. I forget that not all of us have friends from other races. Maybe, you, like me, wonder how to begin?
If you are a white person, do you wonder if your attempts might come across more as a “project” than a real attempt at relationship? Are you afraid to reach out first?
If you are a person of color, do you wrestle with believing in the authenticity of a white person wanting to be friends? Are you afraid to reach out first?
Not all of us live in a multi-racial city, or attend a gospel-centered, vibrant, multi-racial church, or have cared for multiple races in our homes. I forget sometimes how challenging it can be to find and make friends of other races when we’re not in community together on a regular basis.
My friend’s words stick with me. In our heightened awareness this week, I wonder, how many people are taking new steps of faith through these challenges and reaching out to one another?
One race holding out a branch to another race and remembering the true source of life for each of us is rooted in Christ, the one who created us all.