Race-less Gospel

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

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A Prayer for Pentecost

pentecost-2012Luke writes, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.”[1]

“O God of earth and altar,”[2] of blessing and sacrifice, our “living hope”[3] in a dying world, we come with wringing hands, clenched fists and sweaty palms— all expecting to receive but not wanting to sacrifice much. Afraid of the cost of discipleship, we back away from our cross.

We confess that sometimes, we have come with full cups not to be filled to overflowing but to quench Your spirit, to smother the flame of Your presence during times of grief and loss, sickness and death, conflict and frustration, guilt and shame. Confusing the heat with harm, we have delayed the purification of Your holiness and righteousness. We confess that we are smoldering with apathy or that we want to burn for You and have come for a divine encounter with the Light that will strike a match within our souls.

We are so grateful to sit in Your house and listen for the sound from heaven. We are so thankful that You pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh: broken and whole, ill and well, young and old, affluent and impoverished, marginalized and centered in our society.

We ask that while we sit, You would fill the house with the fresh wind of Your presence, that You would blow upon our lives and the lives of those we love, play and work with. We ask You to blow upon the lives of those who serve us for good or ill. Breathe on those who cannot catch a break but are met with disappointment, death and disaster again and again. Breathe on those who cannot catch their breath due to the attacks of panic and fear. And increase in us an awareness of the breath- taking moments in our lives, filled Your goodness, mercy and glory.

Let us leave our service of worship as translators of Your presence in the language of our neighbor, sharing in Pentecost. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.


[1] Acts of the Apostles 2.1-2

[2] This is the opening line of a poem by G. K. Chesterton.

[3] First Peter 1.3


Letting go of race

let-goIt’s not easy.  We are familiar with and know the feel of the social construct of race.  We know what to expect of it and for all the faults that we find with race, we are too familiar with its prejudices, too accustomed to its stereotypes, too comfortable with the life lived racially to let go.  We have gotten use to the frustrations, the disappointments, the struggle.

We are accustomed to the hand held tightly, unable to hold on to anyone, we raise our fists and wave our fists.  Our fingers are stuck together it seems.

I don’t know when or where or why it happened; but, I write for this struggle with identity to end.  I write in hopes of loosening the grip that we have on race.  I write with the vision that we will open our hands, freeing ourselves of what has never been, who we have never seen.  I write with hands wide open with the faith that you too can receive the life of the Spirit.

Race is not holding on to us.  We are holding on to race.  Let go.  This is my prayer.  Amen.




While I understand the angst, disgust and frustration of those who hear the word post- racial and point quickly to the latest example of racialized injustice (also known as hubris, selfishness, self and other- hatred and self- deception), I struggle with communicating my need to move past the social construct of race.  I am tired of building it up, of holding it together, of supporting race.  I am so tired of race being a part of what holds me and you together because it doesn’t.

Instead, it tears me and you apart while pointing the finger at us.  You did it.  No, you did it.  And yet, it is true.  It is not race at all but it is me and you who construct race as the reason for our differences and our not coming together.

This is why I don’t want to talk about race anymore.  I want to talk about our shared humanity.  Because if we are talking about race, then we are not talking about our humanity.  My external appearance is not what makes me a human being because I lose my hair and my skin is wrinkling and my eyes itch.  They all change; my humanity does not.

Race is not synonymous with identity or personhood.  It is no substitute for being or becoming.  It is not a way of relating to ourselves or our neighbors.  And I am simply tired of hearing persons say that it is and it is the only way to be, see or do any of these things.

My hope comes in three parts: prayer, desire and craving. It is this need to create a community without race.  I don’t want and I can’t want anything else.  It is the way that I was made.

I know that this need may not be shared.  So, I am not asking for persons to hurry their conversations with self or others.  Take the time to figure out what you are saying and what is being said about you.  Listen and respond for yourself.

However, I am concerned about the repetition of what we have done against each other, said again and again not in hopes of harvesting insight but in order to harden ourselves.  We repeat the stories in order to toughen up, to close off and to close ranks.

I am not demanding that we keep silent and not challenge those who commit deeds of hatred, that we fearfully acquiesce and believe the lie that change happens without difficult conversations and hard emotions.  Yes, do all of this and that and more.  But, when you have, then what?

Are we even prepared for life after race?  Do we have a timeline for which it all should occur?  Have we constructed goals that might assist in our peacefully and respectfully being together?  Who and how will we measure them?  And how long should it take?  How much time are we going to give ourselves to complete the task of reconciling?

My name indicates my position; stars shine above us.  But, they are also out of reach, beyond us.  I think that I have been gifted with a sense of sight that is above and more importantly beyond what is being said and seen about all of us in matter of race.

While writing, I am reading Howard Thurman’s seminal work The Inward Journey.  Not surprisingly, I just read these words:  “The life inherent is moving always toward goals and ends that are sensed only when realized.  And beyond all these there may be a life of mankind which is more than individuals and groups but in which there is the built- in purpose, aim and goal.”

What I am seeking and what I will ultimately find is beyond me.  It is the life of the Spirit, beyond earth, beyond flesh, beyond eyes and beyond our imaginations.


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In Search of Beauty

imagesBeauty,[byoo-tee], noun

“the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind,whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).”

I have posted signs and made appeals.  I have searched all kinds of faces and followed leads to numerous places for no person, place or thing as beauty is not identified by he or she or it.

Beauty is not observed in painting or picture.  Beauty cannot be airbrushed or captured.  Beauty is always fleeting; we only receive a glance.

We describe persons and experiences, things and expressions as beautiful but nothing is ever full of Beauty.  No, it is shared.  No one and no thing has all of beauty.  So, I am always in search of Beauty, more and more of Beauty.

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urlDuke Divinity School’s Professor Willie James Jennings says, “Western Christianity has become entangled with racism and overthrowing this racial faith requires understanding its core components.”  You can read the full article in the Spring edition of Divinity magazine; it is titled “Overcoming Racial Faith.”

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There is more to life

urlLife is not always a fight.  It is not all struggle and wrestling, climbing and striving, pulling and pushing.  Still, there are persons who move from argument to argument, from injustice to injustice, from one offense to the next.  If we would listen to them, they would have us believe that there are no respites or rest periods, that there is no peace or justice.  They can see no end to the fight.

All they know how to do is fight.  They only know the words of an argument and of their offense.  No rehearsal is needed; their victimhood has become their identity. These persons only know how to take a stand and they feel that sitting down is bowing out.  And if there were a victory, they would not recognize or accept it.  The win would not be enough and if they would start a fight or rehearse an old one just to feel normal.

But, there is more to life than wins and losses, than competitions and competitors.  We were not created to be grouped as us and them.  This is the way that race sees us and we have allowed this social construct, this human- made lens to take our sight.

Life is not fighting against us.  Life is for us.  God did not create us in order to oppose us.  And if we believe this, then we are living the racialized life not the spiritual life.

So, take off your gloves and come out of your corner.  The life that Christ came to give and is always available is abundant (John 10.10).

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Talk Back to Race

red-megaphone“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

~ Voltaire

A child of the South, children were most often “seen but not heard.”  We were seen outside playing.  Outside we could laugh and scream and talk. But once we entered the home, we became mutes.

Unless we were injured or had a message of importance or necessity, we were encouraged to sit down and be quiet, to go in our room until it was time for dinner, to take a bath and get ready for bed.  Our adult interactions were greatly reduced to what was deemed necessary and unavoidable.

Adults and children did not share space or conversation for long periods of time.  We did not discuss current events or share stories of our life together often.  I knew that the silence was awkward but of course, I could not raise an objection.  In fact, when my mother fussed about something that I had done or not done, I would go to my room and mouth a response.  I would not dare talk back in person or with any measure of volume.  It was wise that I not be seen or heard in moments like these.

And we could not question the authority of adults.  We could not ask questions.  We could not interject our point or position in adult conversations.  We had no say, no perspective to be valued, no feelings to be considered, no sense of personhood to be respected.

I was also taught that you could never call an adult a liar.  Those who did were treated as an anathema.  It was considered heretical.

Now, I knew that the adults lied; I had witnessed enough tall tales to know that it wasn’t true.  My mother had also asked me to lie on more than one occasion so the charge of honesty or integrity did not stick in my mind.  Again, it was a means by which to separate children from interpretative power and insight.  But, it did not change the fact that we did have both.

This is one of my problems with the social construct of race.  Now an adult, race seeks to treat me like a child– seen but not heard.  Its stereotypes and prejudices suggest that I have no interpretive power or insight, that race must do my thinking for me.  And while I am a child of the South, I now live in the North.

I have gotten older and it makes no sense to “stay in a child’s place.”  My accent and my understanding of familial roles have changed.  I am a mother now and I don’t want my son to stay a child but instead, to become a man.  So, while I don’t encourage him to talk back, I do want him to talk to me.  Jumping off of our dining room table and climbing onto my back, he is seen and heard in our home.

And he will be seen and heard in American society not as a socially colored black man.  That’s childish.  Race has no authority over him.  No box can contain him; no category can capture him.  His identity is not a box to be checked off; no, he is a living soul.

He is not represented by race but will speak for himself because he has a mother who did not allow race to take his voice, to limit his perspective on who he is and will be, who criticized race because she realized that race is a liar and she dared to talk back.


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