Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

Tag: racism

December 19, 2020 — Holding as we wait

Nativity by Solomija Krushynska

Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using  #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.

Today’s Bible reading:

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16:20-24

More thoughts for meditation:

One of my favorite things is to observe nativity art from around the world. In every language and culture it seems there is a representation of the miracle of the incarnation. What hope it brings that God came to look and be like each of us in our own time and place, to bridge the gap between us in order to demonstrate the way of self-giving love. From sunny island scenes with palm trees to dark and snowy scenes like this one from the Ukraine, we observe the wonder of Emmanuel, God-with-us

What happens, though, when Emmanuel grows up and dies a brutal and excruciating death right in front of us? What was God thinking? How could he ask so much? What happens when 70 years after the civil rights movement, Black people are still being shot by police in our streets and racism still has an insidious hold on every aspect of our lives? What happens when we’re experiencing 9 months of isolation in a pandemic, experiencing a level of loneliness we never knew existed? How do we endure?

Mary’s journey was filled with honor and wonder but it was also filled with unspeakable loss and questions. Maybe we have an opportunity to see something deeper about Christmas this year.

Suggestions for action:

Ponder the Pieta by Michaelangelo below. Mary is grieving. This is not what she expected when the angel told her she was highly favored. Was she duped? Should she give up? I am sure that part of her wanted to die with her son. 

But notice her left hand open to God. There is nothing in it except hope for a miracle. And a miracle she did see; death did not hold her son forever. She went on to plant the early church in the power of his Spirit, and saw the miracle of many lives saved and transformed. 

Know that God sees your suffering right now. He suffers with you. Pray for faith to endure. Pray for a miracle. Hold your hand open like Mary.

October 18, 2016 – Praying for Social Justice: Pray for Anti-Racism

Today’s Bible reading 

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! — Jude 17-24

More thoughts for meditation

Jude urged his readers to “stay woke”. He has stark warnings about these “last times”, as he calls it, which means our time as much as it did his.  The danger he describes is to let the status quo of mindless, evil desires and divisions rule. We can live in those divisions and actively or inadvertently enforce them. In America, racism is the cause of a longstanding evil division that Jude would ardently oppose.

Staying aware and awake is a key task of an anti-racist church like ours strives to be.  We do this by taking a hard look at the present and examining the racist systems that currently exists to divide people up and oppress people of color. We do this by taking a hard look at the past to discover how those racist systems were formed and what our predecessors said and did to undo it all.  We need to stay aware of how racism is changing and evolving and keeping the status quo divisions and oppressions in place. And we need to stay with the leadership of people of color who are prophesying and disrupting systems in ways that continue to undo the sins of the past.

Jude’s urgent advice still applies: “Remember”, “wait”, be merciful”, “save others”, “show mercy.”  Building ourselves up in our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit will strengthen us along an anti-racist journey . Hoping in Jesus will result in abundant joy.

Suggestions for action

Pray “in the Holy Spirit” today.  This doesn’t necessarily mean praying spontaneously, but it can.  The confusing and overwhelming problem of racism may stir up some strong emotions in you. One way to give those emotions a voice is to pray them up.  The last verse of Jude reads like an outburst of praise and prayer wrung out by strong emotion.  Our black spiritual ancestors in the US left us with “spirituals” that were often the spontaneous result of deep suffering and deep emotion made into prayerful song.  You can use whatever is coming to your mind to pray: a song, a verse of a song, a word or a phrase, a tune to hum. Recognize the Spirit of Jesus, the suffering  servant, with you today, and give voice to the one who hears you and who will deliver us.

Pray also for our Circle Mobilized Because Black Lives Matter compassion team, who are helping us take action in the cause of reconciliation and justice.