We arrived at the church and I confess I am already frustrated. This place is a mall, only nicer. I wonder how much money was spent on the fancy decorations and lighting and sound equipment. I also noticed that over 90% of the people here are white, probably middle or upper middle class, attractive, wearing plastered on smiles. I too am these things, perhaps sans the attractiveness and permanent smile. Where are the blacks, the Asians, the natives and the Hispanics? Where are the poor? Where are the oppressed, impoverished? People are dressed in outfits that are worth more than my car. Is it all a façade? Is it a way to make ourselves feel good about our convictions and conscience? Are we just trying to create meaning in a world that often seems so meaningless? I am guilty too. Lots of words, and anger and guilt for the injustice around me, but very little action, maybe even less serious prayer. How do the wealthy, educated, affluent and powerful combat widespread systemic injustices? Do we meet in million dollar church buildings patting each other on the back and raising awareness or is there something more to this? How do we speak truth to power when we are the powerful?
On another note, this morning we met and had a formation in common session with just our group. We started with 15 minutes of silence, which was uncomfortable yet peaceful. The we read together from the Asbury reader and discussed, Lectio Divina style, what the text was speaking to us. Mostly I took away that I need to just rest in the peace of God’s presence and the joy of his salvation, but now I am struggling with how that is tempered with God’s lament over our condition, especially our unawareness of the fetters of wealth, comfort, self-righteousness and homogeneity that bind our souls and keep them from soaring. I want to live and work with joy and peace, but I also want to feel the sense of outrage that I believe God feels when he sees a bunch of rich white folks bantering about changing the world in our million dollar facilities when our battle should be more in the trenches.
God, I am sorry if I am being judgemental. I am simply trying to express what I see and feel. Help me love church folks. Help me love myself. Help me love in a way that I see the image of God in those who trying so hard to create it in themselves. Help me love myself. Help me love those who only fight injustice from the safety of their pew and the comfort of being a safe distance from the bleeding hands and feet and human slaves. Help me love myself. Help me love those who shed rivers of tears on behalf of the oppressed but never shed any blood. Help me love myself. Help me love the readers and speakers, those full of knowledge and vision but lacking in practice and lifestyles of redemptive suffering and love. Help me love myself. Help me love, Lord, help me love.
As I hear the speakers give their various spiels I am much more encouraged, but still skeptical about what each of us does when we leave this place. I love the creative ideas been tossed about and the deep concern on behalf of the presenters. I am impressed with the fact that more people than I would have imagined are actually getting their hands dirty. However, I am wary about the ideas being put forth that we msut somehow depend on law or government to end these atrocities. This simply isn’t true. I don’t think it comes down to prosecutions or threats or coercion. The change we seek can only come through changed lives and hearts. I don’t think it’s the governments job, its our job to see this through. We arent ultimately aiming to end slavery, we are seeking to particpate in and promote the new humanity of God’s kingdom. Prosecution isn’t the answer. Love is.
Some of the quotes that stuck out to me are
“People are willing to leave their theology at the door to come together and combat this issue.” We cannot and must not leave our theology at the door because it informs our actions.
“We should aim to make these grass roots movements a part of the establishment.” Really?!?!
I know some of these thoughts may be a bit disjointed, but there is so much information being thrown at us and I havent had much time to process and reflect on most of it. Look for more to come.