Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…
Riots, protests, murder, racial tension, political turmoil, cities burning, and Covid-19 is put on the back burner for now.
I am trying to think of what to say, that might be helpful. My tendency is not to speak unless I feel like I have something to add to the conversation, and I certainly don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence by restating what is obvious.
I have come to realize that as a white, cisgender male, I have been privileged in ways that I do, and do not, understand.
I realize that as a white, cisgender male, I have never walked a mile in the shoes of those who are not so privileged. Much less have I walked a mile in the shoes of those who are discriminated against: women, LGBTQ people, minorities, Native Americans, refugees, immigrants, or the disabled.
I have not been a target for abuse, or the victim of prejudice based on my race, religion, or gender.
Having said that, I am not really sure what to say. What could I say that would be helpful? What could I say that is not going to insult someone’s intelligence?
I could say that racism is a sin. Do I really need to make that point?
I could say that all children are the children of God. Do I really need to say that?
I could say that God loves people who are black or brown. Do I really need to say that?
I could say that our leaders should be humble public servants. Do I really need to say that?
I could say that there is a long, ongoing history of systematic racism in our country. Do I really need to say that?
I could say that everyone has the right to peacefully protest. But is that not a given?
Do I really need to remind Christians that the primary teaching of Jesus was the love of neighbor? Do we not understand that by now?
Do we really need to review the Biblical understanding of neighbor? The concept was never limited to our own tribe, color, race, or religion. All of God’s children are our neighbors. All means all. All colors, all genders, all races, all classes, all orientations, all nations, all ages. All means all.
What can I say? What can I say that is not obvious? Perhaps, we just need to be reminded every so often of the obvious. Perhaps, it is a good time to honor our Creator, the one who created us with two ears and only one mouth. Perhaps, we can best honor our Creator and our neighbor by listening to stories that are not our own.
I will never walk a mile in your shoes, but if I try, maybe I can close my mouth long enough to hear you. I can listen, really listen, without feeling like I need to formulate a profound response, or retreat into a defensive posture. I can listen, taking the time to hear about the places you have been, the experiences that you have had; and then maybe I can come to a better understanding of human stories that are different than my own.
What can I say that is not obvious? What can I say that will not insult someone’s intelligence?
Our country is in turmoil. Healing will take work. Healing can only take place if we listen to each other and work together for the common good. Our country is a mess. It is up to us to fix it. It starts now.
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