Tag Archives: raceless life

Not Enough For Me

Race does not know my name

I know that the actions committed in the name of race are real, that is makes a believer and faithful follower out of us, that we pledge allegiance to our skin and create borders around our bodies.  No race- mixing.

But, race does not have a real name for me.  Socially constructed, I don’t want this American society or any other to have a say in who I am because the revelation is only skin deep.  The social construct of race can only say so much.  Race does not know my real name and instead, pretends to know me by lumping me into a color- coded group.  “Hey, black people!”  But, what’s my name?

I know that the social construct of race orders our lives, assigning position and extending power based on the social coloring of skin.  I know that race has a place for all of us and there is not much wiggle room.  “White people have this.”  “Black people belong here.”  But, I don’t have to take the seat that race pulls out for me.  I don’t have to give up the power within me because it somehow disrespects the social construct of race.  Besides, I require more space so I will need to move on to greener pastures. Trust me, the grass is greener on the race- less side.

And the social construct of race can only go so far.  It can only take me to stereotypical places.  But, I can’t help but stop race and say, “I’ve seen these boxes before.”  I want to go somewhere else and more still, this is not the place for me.  I don’t fit in and I won’t try to.

Because race is not enough for me.  Unable to keep track of me or to tally all of my being and its expressions, race is not the sum of my existence.  The social construct of race is not the defining attribute of my life.  The color black is the not synonymous with my person and blackness does not capture my presence.

My life is bigger than the social construct of race and it could never satisfy my identity.  Because there is more to me, race will never be enough.  I dare not pretend that it can be.  So, how about you?

 

 

We have a new name

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself.  It is the only true guide you will ever have.  And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

~ Howard Thurman

I have been seeking an understanding of the Christian faith without race and its progeny (i.e. prejudice, stereotypes, racialized perspectives and the like), collecting resources and tools along the way.  Partly, it was an act of faith, hoping that it was possible for me to rid myself of it and to maintain a discipline that ensured that it did not return without rebuke and condemnation.  With God’s help and while running the race, I have found the faith that I sought, a race-less faith.

After nearly three years of listening and writing, pointing to and observing, praying and answering, I discern a new name, a new domain, a new task.  The old preachers would say, “If I had time,” I would talk about the new names that God gives us, how Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter.  When God gives us a new name, the old label is removed.  When God gives us a new name, the past is replaced with a new purpose.

I have been writing about this new name here and there; it could be found in tags to blog posts and pages: race-less gospel, race-less Christianity, race-less resolution, race-less faith, race-less Christ, race-less God, race-lessness.  These words that are now spirit and life have created newness in me (John 6.63).  I am a new creature, race-less in the sight of God always but in my eyes now.  I have a new appreciation for the song that says, “I looked at my hands and they looked at new.  I looked at my feet and they did too.”

I have been walking by faith and now I run with the vision.  The Daily Race has a new name.  It is http://www.racelessgospel.com.  To God be the glory!

Withering Away

“He (Jesus) left that place and entered their synagogue; a man was there with a withered hand and they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to cure on the sabbath?’ so that they might accuse him.  He said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has only one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath; will you not lay hold of it and lift it out?’  How much more valuable is a human being than a sheep!  So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath.’  Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’  He stretched it out and it was restored as sound as the other.  But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.”

~ Matthew 12.9-14, NRSV

Before entering the synagogue, Jesus and his disciples were in the field plucking heads of grain.  They were hungry and so they ate.  It seems simple enough, right?  Wrong.  Hungry or not, they were supposed to starve on the sabbath rather than break the law.

The Pharisees seem to always be present to observe these infractions and to point them out.  They appear omnipresent, consistently around when some one is doing something unlawful.  Perhaps, it is not the actions of those caught but the jury that seems to be following them around that is the real problem.

Jesus makes this point when he directs them to the record of scripture.  They are arguing over a day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118.24).  Jesus is Lord of the sabbath.  The sabbath does not rule Jesus but Jesus rules the day.  I suppose since he created it that this should not be a problem.

And he is, in fact, the Lawgiver and the Law of the Universe so their checking up on him is really quite comical for some and frightening for others.  The Pharisees are close to the word of God but far removed from the presence of God.  They know all the ‘right’ things to say but don’t seem to be able to respond and behave rightly.  They are about the business of God but do not recognize that the owner is in their midst.  They have been at this work for so long that they now see themselves as the owner and creator of the law.  Consequently, they are above it and cannot believe that they can be overruled by anyone, especially Jesus.

Still, Jesus goes into ‘their synagogue’ (cf. Matthew 12.6) and a man was there with a withered hand.  Yes, you can be in the house of God and not be whole.  You can attend worship regularly and still be in need of healing.  It is not the place for perfect people but broken people and in his case, withered people.

The man is in the synagogue not because he is refreshed and on a spiritual mini- vacation.  He goes to the synagogue because he has a need.  And while he did not ask to be healed and we do not know if he came bearing this request or some other.  Something on him has dried up and has been drawn back and whether he planned or prayed for it, because he is in the house of God and Jesus is there, he will be healed.

The Pharisees are there to prevent this healing, to enter into a debate as to whether or not the man should be restored.  They have come to the synagogue not for religious reasons but for personal motivations.  They have come to trick and to trap Jesus.  They are in the synagogue and plotting.  They are in the synagogue and scheming as to how they can rid themselves of Jesus, proving again that it is not a place for perfect people but for broken people.

And they also demonstrate that it does not matter what persons say against you or your God.  God is not impacted or deterred by the disapproval of or personal attacks against him.  The man with the withered hand will be healed.  He is known by and named according to his condition, his imperfection.  But, what will they call him afterward?

Jesus says to him, “Stretch out your hand” and immediately, his name is changed or should I say, returns.  He becomes Steve or Jacob or Robert again.  He is no longer defined by and named after his condition.  He is a healed man and his name has been restored.

I think that we too need to stretch.  We need to stretch out our hands, extending them to those of other cultures.  We need to stretch out our faith, believing that God can draw us close again, despite the damage that race and its progeny has caused.  Forget about the Pharisees, what Bull Connor and others like him have done.  The Healer is in our midst.

Will we continue to be known by our condition: black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people?  Or, do we want to be called by our name?  Will we continue to allow the presence of race and the belief that we cannot be healed from it to cause us to shrink, to draw back and withdraw?  Will we come to church week after week and wither away?  Or, will we allow ourselves to be stretched, following the command of Jesus?  It’s in our hands.

So, the U.S. government has shut down.  I’ll admit that I am shocked; I just didn’t think that it would come to this.  Hundreds of thousands of persons have been furloughed and have returned home to pick up habits like cycling and reading as they wait for the government to reopen.  This morning, I am thinking about the things that I can shut down inside of me as I seek to follow this race-less path: prejudice, racism, stereotypes and unforgiveness.  It only takes one vote.  I am the majority.  What will you shut down today?

Dying Daily to Race

“I die daily.”

~ First Corinthians 15.31

tombstoneFunerals.  No one likes them, right?  Well, except for morticians perhaps!  And death, like politics and religion, is a subject to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.  Whether it is because of the resultant grief, the mystery that shrouds it or fear of our own demise, death is not something that we like to talk about.

Or, maybe, it is because America loves life and Americans love living it to the fullest.  We pride ourselves on this freedom and will march, vote, fight and die for it.  But, death does not allow for that sort of freedom.  When it arrives, there is no place that we can go, no need to protest, no amount of ballots or signatures that will effect change and no way to combat it.  Death is final and we have no say in it.  This is why we don’t like it come around.  Death is stubborn and only God can change its mind.

This is also probably why I have never heard a sermon on Paul’s words to the church at Corinth.  Death is inevitable and unavoidable but we don’t want to think about it now, especially if we are in good health.  There is no need to prepare for death and certainly not to die daily as Paul does, right?

I think that we have it wrong, that our lives should always smell of death as there is much about us that should be allowed to live within us as believers.  Anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, malice and jealousy are just a few examples of things within us that are deserving of death.  I would add to this list racism, prejudice and stereotyping.

Sweet Lord, let the funerals begin with me.  I want to die to the belief that the social coloring of my skin makes me better than others.  Take away my pride.  I want to die to the belief that I am to live my life in comparison to others.  Take away my jealousy. I want to die to the belief that I don’t have to forgive as if the victims of racism, prejudice or stereotypes are above your commandments.  Take away my unforgiveness, hatred and bitterness.  I want to die to the belief that their is a social hierarchy, a “pigmentocracy,” that ranks our importance based on our social coloring and physical features.  Take away the gods that I have created.  I want to die daily to race.  Amen.