Category Archives: Forgiveness

Just do right

imgres 13-06-22These three words are Maya Angelou’s and they have inspired this morning’s post.  I don’t know about you but I search for wisdom.  And as is evident in her three words, it does not take many.  I don’t need a long or grand speech, just a couple of thought-filled and authentic words can release me from longer words that have bound me hand and foot.

I open books with an eager excitement and hope that courage will come, peace will be found, assurance will be given.  I look for good words that might guide me to a higher place, to a better part of me.  And the need is fresh every morning.  I am hungry for words, driven to write them and read them every day.

Likewise, I don’t like fearful words, ill- informed words, hate- filled words.  They do nothing for me but work against me. Now, when persons ask me about race and reconciliation, forgiveness and justice, oppression and privilege, when they question how we can solve the race problem, I have three words for them: “Just do right.”

The Reconciled Church

“Healing the racial divide in the nation will take the Church’s leadership,” says Bishops Harry Jackson and T.D. Jakes who are the leaders of a new attempt to position the church as a source of healing and reconciliation in matters of race.  Their website features a letter to President Barack Obama, “Practical Steps Toward Racial Reconciliation Across America, “Seven Bridges to Peace” and a “Covenant of Reconciliation.”  They recently hosted a two- hour worship service on the Daystar network to promote this effort.  C0- founder of the network, Joni Lamb said during the service, “The world may not be reconciled but we must be reconciled.”

If race has offended you

mediation-21-300x162If race has offended your identity, threatened your sense of community, attacked your neighbor, provoked only by prejudice, then you should say something.  You should confront race and you should not be afraid to “speak the truth in love,” telling her or him, the ominous “they” and “them” that what was said was prejudiced or hateful or stereotypically informed and thereby wrong, misleading, offensive, unChristlike (Ephesians 4.15).

And I don’t have ten steps to a reconciled world, no deep breathing and meditation technique here, no one hundred percent guarantee that it will work right now.  No, this sacred work is case by case, one relationship, one person and then two people at a time.  We must look in the mirror and talk to ourselves first.

After self- confrontation, then we can turn in our Bibles to the process outlined there: Matthew 18.15-17.  Yes, we are familiar with the chapter and it verses.  We like the way they sound and the fact that our faith thinks so highly impresses us and makes us feel good.  Yes, we have studied it in Sunday school.  Yes, we have heard it preached.  We said, “Amen” because we agree.  But, how often do we practice it?  When we have been offended by race, how often do we speak up, talk about it, tell some one in our church and then, the Church?

It’s time that Christ’s members started working together and we cannot do that until we discontinue this practice of segregated worship.  Justified and divinized, it is not supported by Scripture and is not the goal of kingdom of God.   If race has caused us to be offended by the appearance of a member of Christ’s body, by the sound of their worship, by the practice of their faith, then we need to talk about it.

No more excuses.  This can’t wait.  We need to talk now and here’s  how we do it.

“15 ‘If another member of the church sins against you go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.”

 

 

 

 

 

I hugged a police officer yesterday

Stop-And-Give-Me-A-HugMy family and I were out at a local Chipotle restaurant and I saw a European American police officer standing in line.  I had the unction to hug a police officer last week while standing in line at Panera Bread.  I questioned myself and his potential reaction.  While I was questioning the impulse, he walked away.  I watched him walk away and I was so disappointed with myself.  I came home and told my husband about it.

So, when the opportunity presented itself again, I just looked at my husband and said, “I’m going to go over and hug him.”  I handed our son to him, walked over to the officer and asked if I could.  He said, “Yes.”  Afterwards, I thanked him for his service, told him that I didn’t believe that all police officers are bad, that I loved him even.  He said that it had been difficult given the circumstances these past few months.  I shook my head in agreement and with that, we parted ways.

It felt good.  Not the hug.  I mean, he’s not a bad hugger but it wasn’t about the hug.  It was about confronting fear, connecting and reconnecting, relating to race as the outsider.

Persons are still protesting and I have joined with them.  I’m not carrying a sign.  I’m hugging police officers.

On this past Sunday, I asked my congregation to pray for police officers, instructing them not to stereotype all police officers as bad.  Persons slowly nodded their heads in agreement.  The silence wasn’t awkward but thoughtful.  After the service, a European American member came and hugged me.  She was in tears.

Her son had recently completed training as a police officer and was having doubts about the decision to serve in light of the increased discussions on race and law enforcement.  She thanked me for the prayer and the instruction.

Her son’s fear is shared.  A recent article provided some police officers’ point of view regarding the Eric Garner case, pointing out that he was resisting arrest and that his health also contributed to his death.  But, they also talked about the disrespect that other police officers not involved in the death of Eric Garner are suffering in light of the grand jury’s decision not to indict, feelings of betrayal by other high ranking officials and the demonization of all who wear the badge.  These are tough words to hear but there is never one side of a story– no matter how old or familiar it is to us.

I did not assume as much when I decided to hug the police officer yesterday; in fact, I put the stories aside.  I put my fears aside and embraced the possibility that it was an accident, that we could be friends, that we might be able to breathe again… one day.

 

 

 

 

What more can we say about race?

procurement_conversation

“I’m a problem.  You’re a problem.  We’re all a problem.”  That about sums up any conversation on race.

We have told “them” and “you people” how we feel for more than four hundred years and there have been responses.  We have enslaved, traded, murdered, marched, sat in, sung about it, been falsely accused, jailed and beaten, bombed, suffered dog bites and fire hoses, passed legislation, married, integrated, segregated more, hated still.

And we keep talking about race but to what end, hoping to reach what conclusion, believing that “they” will say or do or be what exactly to us?  What do we need this mysterious and unnamed “they” to do in order for us to forgive our faults and failures, to let go of our bitterness and fears, to give up attempts to dominate and to let down all of our guards?

At some point in the conversation, we have to accept that we have been heard and that “they” have responded, whether we like it or not, whether we feel it sufficient or appropriate or responsible or compassionate or enough.  How many words does it take to forgive? How many words does it take to forgive?

Because if we are continuing to say the same things and the response remains the same, then we have to change the conversation.  At some point, we have to forgive and make peace if only with ourselves, knowing that we have been hurt and heard, that we have survived and now thrive, that we can move on and move up.  We have to accept them as they are, understanding that we can change– even if they don’t want to.

What more can we say about the race problem?  I think that we have said enough.  I believe that it’s time to start talking about the solution, we human beings.  Race has interfered with and interrupted that conversation long enough.