Dear Family of First Lutheran,
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, who sustains us in our journey of faith.
It’s the Holy Spirit who has been tugging at my heart, tapping on my shoulder, and keeping me awake this past week. It’s the Holy Spirit who is helping me write to you today.
Like most of you, I have been watching the news, feeling utterly heartbroken that the sin of racism has been revealed to us again. I have watched the injustice of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and I have grieved with communities who know that this is not new news. I have wrestled with finding the right words to say to you, my people. I have done a lot of praying, a lot of listening to my friends and colleagues who are People of Color, and I have prayed some more.
This past Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, when we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending upon the people like a “rush of violent wind,” and that every single corner of our world and of our hearts was “filled with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2: 1-4). The Holy Spirit gave voice to the disciples, and Holy Spirit compelled them to act. As the church full of the Holy Spirit, silence is no longer an option for us.
This is the time to speak up, and name that the sin of racism and white supremacy in all its forms is evil and not from God. It is time for me, as a white woman who carries more privilege than I am aware of, and as a pastor of our predominantly white, denominational Protestant church to do some and long-overdue work.
As Christians, we have a particularly strong framework in which to discuss the sin of racism. We follow a God who loved every person so deeply that God became human and lived with us in our struggles. Jesus consistently advocated for those who were oppressed, healed the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the needy, and spoke truth to power. Jesus lived his love in action. We have a God who joined with all who suffer by dying on a cross, and a God who defied death in the resurrection, showing us that absolutely anything is possible. Envisioning a better, more racially just world is a theological promise and responsibility for living out the resurrection. As Christians, we have the responsibility to live Christ’s love in action.
As Lutherans, we are also gifted with a beautiful language to help us work through this growth. We can navigate complexities and appreciate the nuances for every situation. We can hold two things that seem to be in tension and know they are both true. We also follow the example of Martin Luther, a man of action, who knew that a life of faith was being active and engaged in the world. We know that God freely offers us grace, so we might live boldly.
This work is hard work. It’s uncomfortable work. It will challenge us. But difficult work is precisely the work to which Christ calls us. God is calling us to be brave and to be vulnerable, and to open our hearts to how the Holy Spirit is working for justice in our world.
I encourage you to prayerfully consider joining me in doing this work:
First, and foremost, pray. Pray for the racial injustices, pray that voices be heard, pray that leaders make decisions based on compassion and justice for those most in need.
We will be beginning a book study on anti-racism, reading the book “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness,” by author Austin Channing Brown. This discussion group run four weeks, and have both an evening and afternoon option to meet. For now, this discussion group will be meeting on zoom on these dates:
Tuesday, June 23rd, 7p OR Thursday, June 25th, noon (Bible Study time)
Tuesday, June 30th, 7p OR Thursday, July 2nd, noon
Tuesday, July 7th, 7p OR Thursday, July 9th, noon
Tuesday, July 14th, 7p OR Thursday, July 16th, noon
The book, “I’m Still Here” can be ordered through the office at a cost of $10 per book, contact Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be on the lookout for more opportunities to learn and grow. COVID-19 makes planning difficult, but we have hopes to get an in-person anti-racism training here at the church or with a partner church this summer.
Check out our ELCA statements and resources through churchwide: https://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/8039…
And through Central States Synod: https://mailchi.mp/css-elca/2020synodassembly…
If you are interested in being a part of any local groups doing this work in our community, including the Coalition for Equal Justice or Kansas Interfaith Action; or if you want to know of good places doing justice work to donate, please let me know.
Dear church, we are created and called for such a time as this. God has equipped us to act with radical and beautiful love, and I am confident that we will rise to this moment.
With tremendous love and appreciation for each and every one of you,