“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Following up from last week’s post, I want to reflect today on the second Lenten discipline that I recently completed: the careful and prayerful daily reading of The Repentance Project’s An American Lent.
Each day’s devotion included a reflection upon one aspect of our nation’s history of racism. But not just our history as actions over and done with. It looked equally at the ongoing story of structural racism that continues in our society today. And not just in ‘our society’ taken in some generic sense that involves ‘other people’ or ‘their’ actions. It led me to look equally at my actions and at my inactions that contribute to structural racism.
While I was already aware of some of the general topics that were presented— slavery, Jim Crow, and injustices in voting, incarceration, education, health, wealth, and opportunity — I had not seen them explored to the depth of painful detail that they were in this series.
While I was already aware of many of the privileges from which I have benefited as a white person, I had not recognized many of the discriminations from which I have been exempted as a white person—the hardships, suspicions, distrust, and burdens of fear experienced daily by many black people.
Bible readings, prayers, and calls to action accompanied each topic. This 1st Corinthians passage (12:24-26) about the Church as Christ’s body spoke starkly to me in this context: “God has so arranged the body … that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it…” If I do not recognize the suffering experienced by my sisters and brothers of color—the suffering for which I am partly responsible—and if I do not help to alleviate that suffering, then I am not a part, myself, of Christ’s body.
My personal prayer is that I may, by the Holy Spirit’s guidance, pay more attention to the injustices around me and find opportunities to confront those injustices. I invite all of my white sisters and brothers to do the same.
I pray that we all, black and white, will be able to look forward together with hope to an American Easter. I pray that we all, black and white, will be able to work together with purpose for an American rebirth beyond racism.
The Rev. Bill Queen