One Body: White Christians, Time to Get in the Game

(Grateful to have this piece also shared on sojo.net and eugenecho.com)

I am grieving and lamenting and beyond angry over what feels like open season on the Black Community/Church right now in the US. White Christians, this is the time to pay attention and be part of our nation’s struggle to understand and address the continual violence happening against our black sisters and brothers. When one part of the Body hurts we all hurt – when one part of the Body is repeatedly targeted, killed, not protected, pulled out of swimming pools, seen as threats when unarmed – and then misrepresented, silenced, or made small through ahistoric excuses, side-stepping through political mess, or any other form of evil – we need to stand up. We need to show up – loudly. We need to demand a different response – and start with our people in the church.

White church – and the wider church in general – this is the time for all of us to engage. Help present the truth wherever you can, whether it’s on facebook or over lunch at work. Fight for life, by holding up friends right now and grieving with those too tired to carry on, and preparing for advocacy and work that is necessary and is always before us in the future. Seek to understand, lament, and see the systems and principalities at work in our world, in our churches, maybe in our minds – ask Christ for the eyes to see. Thank you to all those already in the game – advocating, grieving, listening, standing with, and paying attention.

If you’re not sure what to do – start paying attention, right now. Read articles from the Black Community, notice the particular beauty and pain within the Black Church, start to feel this pain and shock and repeated abuse as if it were in your own family, because, well, it is. Pray, pray more, confess, lament, and learn more, and pray some more. Bring this up with your people. Ask about this reality of race and death at your church – where will it be addressed within worship this Sunday? Where will we take our part of the responsibility of educating, advocating, understanding, speaking out, and helping change how race and faith and life and death are seen in the US? Publicly share information and lament and hope with others. Publicly stand for and with and fight this sense of black life not being as valuable, as noticed, as mourned. The more we join the outrage and point to the truth that ‪#‎faithandracealwaysmatter‬ and ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ , the more we help open up spaces of lament, healing, Good News, justice, reconciliation, hope and the potential for life to flourish.

This is not a time to leave the black community alone, to let them mourn or be angry or fix it alone. White Christians, we inherited this mess and this story of power and privilege and racism that shapes our individual lives, our corporate realities, and even our congregations. The wider church and the world will be shaped by how we choose to engage or turn away from this kind of death. Particularly those of us with any voice, leadership, influence, and the privilege to choose whether or not to engage issues of death and race – it is time to get in the game. Because of course, this is no game – these issues of racism and how we choose to see truthfully or speak up – these are literally matters of life and death for the Black Community. So it is past time to choose life, to advocate for our people – all people – in the Body of Christ. It is on our shoulders to be part of fighting the evil we are witnessing over and over in our nation that is taking and diminishing Black life – actively, with faith and hope and love, and with each other. ‪#‎timetogetinthegame ‬ ‪#‎payattention ‬ ‪#‎prayforCharleston ‬ ‪#‎standwiththeBlackChurch‬ ‪#‎OneBody‬

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Lent, Honesty, Mental Health and Freedom

“Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
—Common Worship, the Church of England

“Did you ever look inside yourself and see what you are not?”
—Flannery O’Connor

As this year’s Lenten season draws to a close, I have been struck by the way time and awareness and health are intersecting this year. A good friend of mine has a degree in psychology and counseling, and she was telling me that mental health is really about self-awareness – seeing who we truly are and being able to hold the good and the bad, the dark and the light, the best and the worst all together in one piece without lying to ourselves about who we really are. This holding together of the diverse parts of the self is what psychologists term ‘coherance’ – my friend is especially good at helping people talk through their own lives, look at their own stories, and come to places of deeper coherance where they can hold the whole story together, in one piece – finding better mental health.
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Ready and Thankful

I have not written on my blog for quite some time; over a year in fact. In the past I have often had starts and stops when it comes to writing, times of inspiration and dry spells, times when the words flow and the inspiration is easy, and other seasons where it seems dry and I have to dig deep. But this past year has been – significant. Different. Longer. Shorter. Harder. Better.

I had a child. Moved our family of four across the country. Said good-bye to a church family and some of my deepest friends in the world. Left the city that shaped my call to ministry and justice and academia. Started a full-time pastoral position. Saw my eldest start kindergarten. Presided over a memorial service for several homeless people in my new city. Baptized my niece. Started to fall in love with a new city. Taught a seminary class. Enjoyed summer on the north west coast. Celebrated new births and mourned lives passing. Met 750-or-so people in my new church where I hit the ground running by listening, leading, organizing, following, teaching, learning, pastoring, preaching, and loving these new people who I am now knit together with. I am starting my seventh month of ministry in this new season and I think, finally, the dust is settling and I am feeling ready. Ready to write. Ready to build more deeply. To reflect more deeply. Ready for more.

Not writing this past year has been a metaphor for the truth that I have not had enough space to process, to reflect, to write, to think, to engage, to integrate. Only a few times did the need to write interrupt the fullness of everyday life. I wrote to my baby boy just days before he came into this world. I wrote for his baptism. I wrote some family history. And I wrote good byes and thank you’s and promise to see you soon. For me writing is always integrating, it’s putting pieces together, it’s seeing in a new way, it’s prioritizing. For me to not write in this public space, or much in my own private space, is a sign that I need integration, I need to see anew. And I need to begin somewhere.

So I begin here. I begin by remembering much of what has happened in this last season. Recently I found myself with some time on a plane ride to write out all that our family juggled well (and sometimes not so well) with the changes and transitions this past year or so. I remembered all that we came through, all we were surprised by and grieved over and let go of, and then all that we embraced and rejoiced over and grew into and were able to rest in. We have been provided for in such significant ways. Loved and cared for and remembered. Seen new life and taken daring leaps. Brought alive through worship and tethered deep by relationship. Centered to the core by prayer and community and trust.

There is so much good here to remember, write about, and integrate. So I start by remembering. I start with gratitude. With thankfulness and amazement and praise for being led through, I look back and say, thank you. I pause within the always-moving pace of life and acknowledge. I put back the pieces again, noticing the fingerprints of God throughout. And I remember that even in the messiness of life, maybe especially there, I get to meet God and follow and learn alongside others. I am ready. And I am so very thankful.

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