Race-less Gospel

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


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Take a risk

goldfish jumping out of the water

“There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

~ Aristotle

While I knew that God desired that I denounce race, I did not know exactly how to say it without hurting someone’s feelings or sense of self.  There are millions of people who identify with race and identify themselves through a racial identity but I could not.  Perhaps, I am the one in a million for which this category does not fit.

But, my fear did not prevent me; it did not stop my mouth.  In fact, not saying it would have silenced me altogether.  Race simply does not speak for me and I could never live with myself if I agreed with what it said about others. So, I chose to take a risk.

William Du Bois said, “The most important thing to remember is this: to be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”   I didn’t have to wait until a certain age, until I could legally drive or vote or smoke or enlist in war or drink alcoholic beverages.  I didn’t have to wait until the middle of my life.  But, I could change now because I was ready to give up race for what I might become.

Now, I don’t know who I will be but I do know that the racial identity by which I existed is so much smaller than who I am even now. I am fuller and freer in step and speech today than when I first said it, “race- less.”  And I will say it again and again as an invitation to change and a demonstration of faith in the process of becoming.

I am worth the risk and so are you.  So, take it.  Take the risk.

 


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A poem against internalization

imagesYou can search through my hair to ensure airport security.

You can bar  and color- code my skin.

You can socially position my body, marginalize or center.

But, you cannot touch who is within.

***

You can count me, number me: minority and majority.

You can in and out me, believe in and doubt me.

You can even create a society that suggests it can live without me.

But, you cannot touch the inner life; say what you will.

I can never run out of me.

***

You can size up my lips and measure the width of my hips.

 You can shape my nose and eyes.

You can categorize these body parts as good or bad.

But you cannot touch who I am inside.

***

You can have what belongs to the earth.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Box it up, label and keep it.

Because my soul, you cannot touch.


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Race Together

imgresRace Together is a new initiative and partnership between Starbucks and USA Today. They are hoping to get their customers talking about race.  Race Together hopes to tackle racism through conversation and there is much to talk about with the recent death of an African American Mississippi man, Otis James Byrd, the alleged assault of a African American UVA student, Martese Johnson and the death of yet another unarmed bi- cultural teenager, Tony Robinson, in Madison, Wisconsin.

All of these cases are open and under investigation.  Mr. Byrd was found hanging from a tree and while it is suspected to be a lynching, the cause of death has yet to be determined.  Mr. Johnson is facing charges of public intoxication and obstruction of justice while he is accusing state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents of police brutality.  The family of Mr. Robinson is calling for peaceful protests.

Whether with Starbucks and USA Today, in school auditoriums, places of worship or around the kitchen table, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about race together.  Don’t allow it to keep us from speaking to each other when there is so much that is being left unsaid.


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Lent: Something more

lent2014Lent.  The mysterious four- letter word that we have made a routine, no chocolate, no television, no, no, no.  We use it as an occasion to diet, to take a break from a favorite guilty pleasure.  We do not think of Christ’s suffering but the dress or pants size we hope to be, the time we will gain from this disciplined distance between us and channel surfing.  We will, of course, not spend the time with God but catch up on all the other things that we need to do.  Still, we will pat ourselves on the back, confident that we have made God proud.

But, there is more to this time of preparation than that.  Christ gave up more than that.  He gave his life and he did it to gain us.  Surely, we can think of something more in order that we might join the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3.10).  Certainly, there is more to our faith than this.

Or, is this what we believe?  Do we think that this is all that it takes, all that is required, that there is no depth, no real cost to discipleship?  And if so, why?  And why continue on season after season if this is all there is to Christianity?  Christ died and we die to our flesh by giving up sweets.  We pick up our cross by putting down the remote control.

Still, I believe that there is a cavity in our soul that this decision does not address, that there is an ache in the mouth of God’s Body, that we are so familiar with the story that something is being left unsaid.  And it is because it is assumed.

We assume that we know his sufferings because we know what was done to him.  Isaiah prophesied about it, the gospel writers retell the story of Christ’s passion and movies attempt to recapture it in graphic detail.  But, have we really thought about his sufferings– not for the whole world but for us as individuals, that he died for you and me.

The fact is that Christ thought we were something more and could be someone more than sinners.  And he gave his life to prove it.


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If God’s not dead (Pt. 2)

a98625a5087d4fbe2b7fb13ea3635f49During this season of Lent, when Christians draw closer to Christ and remember his sufferings for us, I wonder what of Christ’s death impacts us today?  How do we feel about it?  What do we do about it?  Are we stuck in the grieving process?

Because if God’s not dead, then why do we act like He is?  Often, we enter the sanctuary somber, walking as if we are joining a funeral procession.  And this is not said to discount those who are experiencing a season of grief or are weighted down with some care or concern.  No, this message is for those who laughed in the car and then wiped the smiles off of their faces as soon as they got out of it.

Is there nothing to smile about as a believer in Christ?  Is worship no laughing matter?  Is worship serious business?

And why don’t we sing when we come to church?  Do we think that God cannot hear us, that the Church is more of a coffin, the sound buried behind our closed doors?  Perhaps, it is buried under our closed mouths.

Why do we not clap?  Is there nothing of God’s works to applaud?  Do we not celebrate His goodness or have we come to mourn the memory of God?

If God’s not dead, then I think it is time that we start acting like it, believing like it, worshipping like it.  If God’s not dead, then we’ve got something to smile about.  If God’s not dead, then neither is our faith.

So, get up and clap.  Get up and sing.  And get up with a smile.  He is risen!


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Let us pledge

images-1While the conversation and the fallout continues over the abhorrent chant by members of University of Oklahoma’s now defunct chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, I want to remind us that we do not shape our responses to society based on the actions of its members.  Instead, our actions and reactions must be molded to fit the cross of Christ.  Let us not forget that this is the season of Lent; the time when we walk in the footsteps of Christ and “die daily” to ourselves in order to be more like him (First Corinthians 15.31).  What did he pledge while he hung on the cross?

Christ was brutally hazed for our sins.  He was beaten, taunted, mocked, spit on and later crucified.  And he didn’t do it for himself but “the chastisement of our peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53.5).  He did it so that we could be called the children of God.  We  bear his name because of it and we pledged to be like him no matter what people say.

So, let us pledge to live, remembering that Christ died for us.

Let us pledge to lead, remembering whose steps we follow in and to what end: the cross.

Let us pledge to love, remembering that there are no conditions, that God loves us freely, that there is an enchanting and eternal chant: J-E-S-U-S.

 

 

 

 


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If God’s not dead

imgres-1“He is not here; he is risen.”

~ Matthew 28.6

During this season of Lent, Christians all around the world are remembering the death of Jesus the Christ.  While many of us have committed to identifying with his sufferings for our salvation through fasting, prayer and private devotion, there is a joy in this sacred service.  Because we are not mourning the death of Jesus.

We know the end of the story.  He will rise.  The grave will not keep him.  Death will be robbed and disciples throughout the centuries have reported the crime.  “He is not here; he is risen.”

We are walking alongside him, following in his footsteps because we are baptized believers who identify with Christ in his death as well as his resurrection.  “We are resurrection people,” I heard the Reverend Gardner Taylor say one Easter morning some years ago. We live Jesus’ life and it is abundant because he is abundant, more God than we could imagine or think.

So then, if Christ is risen, if he is not in the grave, if God is not dead, then why is our faith not alive and kicking?  Why is our faith not active, animate, lively?  Why does it sit on pews and not move as if mourning the cross?

Why does it stare blankly when asked questions, unmoved by the opportunity to share his life with others?  Why do we fold our arms, close our eyes and walk through life as if blind, behaving as if we possess not the eyes of faith?  If God is not dead, then we have so much to live for.

So, get up.  Stop fishing.  Stop looking.  He is not here.  Get your faith moving because he is risen!

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