Race-less Gospel

A race-less life is a Christ- filled life.


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Unpacking the baggage of race

mood_tim-walker_iris-palmer-and-her-suitcases_italian-vogueThe American racial identity is baggage.  It is a bunch of small containers for our humanity that transport us to the destiny of history.  Race is a round trip backward.

There is so much to race, so much that we have to hold on to and positions that we cannot let go.  Race is cumbersome and gets in the way of who we really are.  It impedes our movement and slows our lives down.

The social construct of race is burdensome and too heavy to carry.  So, we should just put it down.  It is of no benefit and who packed these bags anyway?

Check the tag; where are we going with race?  How much is it going to cost?  Where is race taking us?  And do we really want to continue on this path?

Its history is heavy.  Its convictions are loaded.  Its summaries concerning human life are weighty.  We need to put race down. Being and identifying who we are is not this hard.  It does not take this much strength to be who God created us to be.

We are not what is in those bags?  We are not hatred or prejudice, anger or resentment, bitterness or jealousy, wrath or unforgiveness.  These are feelings not faces.  But, all of these things are folded neatly in the baggage of race, stored just in case we need to wear them.  And this is why our hearts are heavy and our souls are weighted down.  It is because race is a burden not a blessing.

These carry on items do not allow us to carry on with life as God intended but we have to stop and start again every day.  So, let’s unpack the baggage because where we are going, race is not needed.

 


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He is risen! Now what? (Pt. 2)

apathy-1The Easter lilies are turning brown and drooping.  The angels are no longer at the tomb.  Jesus is not there.  He is risen!  He has shown himself to Mary Magdalene.

And what of the cross?  What do we do with it?  He is not there either.

We have read the Scriptures and remembered the story.  We have sang the songs and given thanks.  That’s it, right?  Wrong.

He is risen and now, we must rise.  It makes no sense for us to look into the tomb and see that Jesus is not there and then climb into our own.  Perhaps, your tomb does not have a marker; maybe it does not have a name.  But, if it prevents you from living in the power of the resurrection then, it is a grave.

Allow this word to dig you out and to pull you up.  “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  Now, it’s your turn.


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Nothing

urlI wish that I had the time to share all that I read and learn with you, all of the stories– historical narratives and personal testimonies alike.  I wish that you would be fully persuaded that God does not love you like race does or as race says.  Perhaps, this would aid in your understanding my conclusions regarding race.  Nevertheless, I depend on the spirit of Christ within you to move you  to this race- less faith.  If you believe that the spirit of Christ does not work in such matters, then maybe this article might move you closer to my side.

Often persons speak about the biological reality of race as if the physical reality of the social coloring of skin somehow means that race is real.  But, while the social coloring of skin is real, the reality of race is socially constructed.  The values that we assess and the judgments that we make are all our own.  Our skin does not come with a key or a legend or a hierarchal ladder to determine its meaning and measure.  It’s all make believe.

The article that I alluded to earlier was featured in The Atlantic and says, “Genes Don’t Cause Racial- Health Disparities, Society Does.”  Billions of dollars in research and the findings were nonexistent.  There’s nothing there.  I have spent years reading and researching race and let me save you the trouble, stop looking at your skin as if it is a problem or a solution.  There’s nothing there.


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Selah

selah590Diversity training won’t fix this.  Carefully crafted apologies are absurd.  Protests and candle light vigils miss the point and the greater need.  I don’t want to hold hands and sing of what will be.  I don’t want to reenact it, create a choreography that walks in his footsteps.

And justice is not the word.  I’ll know it when I hear it or maybe when I say it.  But, I am sure that I don’t need justice; I’ve had enough of social justice.  I’ve seen what happens when we hold the scales, how they are tipped in favor of one group or the other, depending upon how much money is put in them.

Anger won’t bring him back; his back is turned from us now.  He’s no longer with us but has joined the wrongfully dead.

There are just no words that come to mind when I watch the video of Mr. Walter Scott running away because unlike the police officer who claimed he felt threatened, perhaps, it was Mr. Scott who got the feeling that he was in danger.  He’s unarmed.  He’s got nothing.  Unless you want to argue that the social coloring of his skin is a threat.  He’s a “black” man so beware!

But, I’m not buying it and please don’t attempt to sell me another story of self- defense.  I don’t want to hear about the “color of criminality.”  Let me stop you.  I’ve heard this one before.

His mother and others are saying that South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is a “good person.”  Yes and so was Mr. Scott.  He was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation and then he was shot five times as he ran away.  No warning.  No request to get the car fixed.  No ticket.

There is a word in the Bible that appears almost exclusively in the Psalms with the exception of the book of Habakkuk: Selah.  Some consider it a musical symbol that suggests that one should pause and reflect on what has been said.  I don’t know what to say but when I watched the video, I just had to stop and think about what I had just witnessed.  Murder.  Selah.

 


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He is risen! Now, what?

Empty-Tomb-Picture-07Life after Easter can seem anticlimactic.  We have suffered like Jesus during Lent.  We have remembered him while partaking of Communion on Maundy Thursday.  We have reflected on the meaning of his death on Good Friday and waited in anticipation for Sunday morning.

Well, Sunday has come and gone.  The resurrection is past; the day is behind us.  The tomb is empty.

Jesus did what he said he would do.  End of story.  Now, what?  What’s next for his disciples?

Good question.  After the resurrection, Jesus didn’t leave them.  But, he kept on appearing.  According to the gospel writers, he kept showing up.  Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles, “After his suffering, he presented himself alive by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (1.3, NRSV).  It wasn’t over then and it’s not over now.

The work of the resurrection was finished but there was still work to be done.  As his disciples, we have a hand in it and likewise, are commissioned by Jesus: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28.19-20, NRSV).  He is risen!  Now, tell someone about it.


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How race makes us bitter

bitterness_by_hearthy-d5dpjgt“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble and through it many become defiled.”

~ Hebrews 12.15, NRSV

Race gives us permission to think and do and be a lot of things, whether they are healthy or not, Christlike or not.  It is a special pass, an acceptable excuse because we all understand.  “It’s a race thing.”

You had to do it.  Race made you do it.  What else did we expect given the future outlook, the present predicament, the history of our relationship with “those people,” right?

Bitterness is one such result of our relationship with persons of other cultures for which race is an issue and/or plays a major role in our interactions and interpretations of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors.  Bitterness is the consequence of years of unresolved conflict, unheard arguments and centuries of the silent treatment.  We have gone to bed angry too many days.

Bitterness is the result of a meeting between anger, disappointment and resentment.  Any time these three feelings are together, bitterness will result.  And race causes these feelings to be present more often than not.  In fact, they come together so often that it is more like a family gathering, an unhealthy reunion of sorts.

Race makes us bitter because the social construct was founded upon injustice, inequality and self- serving comparisons.  It was created not to make us content but competitive, to say that these people are the winner and these were created to be losers.

But we all lose when we cultivate the fruit of bitterness, when we grow it, market it, sell it wholesale.  It has defiled us all; all of our souls are dirty, rooted in this rottenness.

Race makes us bitter; let God makes us better through His grace. Let go of race and its bitterness.  This is my prayer.  Amen.


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Peacemakers

making_peace_at_my_ex_husbands_seder“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will called children of God.”

~ Matthew 5.9, NRSV

We make lots of things but I am not sure that peace is at the top of the list.  Our hands are busy, holding and letting go, moving and directing, pointing and shooting, typing, writing and erasing, shaping and shining, soothing and punishing.  We make things happen and we make things work.  We make things better and we make things worse.

But, how do we make peace?  What are the ingredients for peace?  The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”  Is that it?  Are unarmed truth and unconditional love ingredients for peace?  I believe so. But, I would add integrity and wisdom, courage and persistence, faith and forgiveness, justice and reconciliation, hope and patience, grace and mercy.

It takes a lot to make peace and it takes awhile to make peace.  This process if not microwavable, some frozen, prepackaged process that we can just pick up and enjoy.  We cannot drive through and pick it up either.  No, we must have a hand in it and we must keep at it.

Of course, there are those of us who desire to make peace with our past, with ourselves and family members.  And this is necessary as well.  We cannot have wars within and expect to make peace without.  So, yes, make lots of peace.  Serve it up fresh and share it freely.

Perhaps, this is how we make peace an occupation.  Maybe this is how we become certified peacemakers.  We practice it daily.  I’m no expert and certainly no teacher but I am willing to be a student of the Prince of Peace, that is the Christ.  The class is never full so pull up a chair right next to me.  Let’s make peace together.

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