Tag Archives: segregated church

Sunday morning segregation

It’s almost 11 a.m., that holy hour that is concentrated with our hubris, when the worship services are but a reflection of our preferences, when the pews are filled with the people we are most comfortable with.  It’s almost 11 a.m. on this fine Sunday morning where people dress up or down and then sit down and get up unchanged and unchallenged to go out and subvert the kingdom of this world.  Instead, we fall in line and when told, we will skip to the front of the line.  I know that Jesus has an order, “The last will be first,” but this is the way they do things down here.  We act as if Jesus didn’t come down here and show us the way.

Called to turn the world upside down, we don’t feel comfortable touching anything (Acts 17.6).  Just leave it the way that it is.  Just go to work and come home.  Just live according to society’s schedule and its election cycles.  America will change in its own time.  We’ve got plenty of time.  Now is never the right time.

What time is it now?  Oh, we’ve got to hurry up and get to church now.  But, the Church is so late, so behind the times when it comes to race and its progeny.  Jesus came and stood side by side with us.  The miracle of divinity became human just to be close to us.  And yet, we human beings are still not close enough. Not wanting to live on earth together, we divide up dirt.

Human beings have convinced themselves that we come in colors and daily attempt to create distance between each other.  And Sunday morning doesn’t bring us any closer.  The Church in North America offers segregated services. “If you don’t want to worship with those people, you don’t have to.  Hallelujah and Amen.”

Instead, I suggest that the Church in North America close its doors until Christian leaders work up the courage and the nerve to point persons to the narrow way, to preach the life of Christ that is a tight squeeze, that would not allow our racialized, hyper- politicized, capitalized prejudices in.  If not, it makes no difference as a generation has closed its ears to what the Church would have to say.  The Church isn’t getting any younger as the members are all turning gray.  They were turned off by pastors turned entrepreneurs and worship spaces that became little kingdoms unto themselves.  Or, they took note of the Church when it did not chime in or hold her hand when she told stories of sexual predation, harassment, abuse and rape.  Or, they circled their absence when the bodies of unarmed African American children, women and men were being outlined with chalk.  Despite testimonies and video surveillance, they managed to preach a manacled gospel that suggested God was with some of us.

Let’s hurry along now.  Get in the car and pray that no one is parked in your spot or sitting in your seat when you arrive at church.  Pray that the choir sings songs that you like and that the pastor’s sermon is one you like, that it is one that is sweet and polite, that she not say anything to upset you or cause you to sweat.  Pray that the service doesn’t go more than an hour because that would be ridiculous and you might have to change your plans.

It’s 11 a.m. and time for a nap, time to stretch out in our pew- cribs, time for songs that sing our soul’s passions to sleep, time for sermons that redirect our callings to the marketplace.  Don’t start any trouble.  Don’t say anything that might trouble our conscious or renew our conviction that we are sisters and brothers.  Just leave well enough alone as if this society has ever been well, like all of us have ever had enough.  Let’s just say our prayers but then sit on our hands and in effect hold back the answer to them.

It’s that time again, that special time when Christian believers go into our color- coded corners for worship and come out swinging.  We all have an understanding, a memorandum of understanding regarding race though most Christians don’t have an informed understanding of race.  Our meanings for the social construct vary and are more than a little shaky.

But, we don’t need to know what it means.  We know what it means for us.  We have experienced racism, prejudice and privilege.  No need to question the impetus behind the biased or preferential treatment as if our skin explains this treatment.

We do not challenge our belief in the differences associated with our skin’s pigmentation.  No, we will confess that God is the Creator of all, that Jesus is our kinsmen redeemer, that the Holy Spirit blows upon all flesh and then hate the person standing right next to us for no reason at all.  All buttoned up, clothes, lips and all, we think that we can worship God and hate our siblings.  But, this is not love at all (First John 4.20).  It’s a lie and all who would live it are liars.  It should be illegal, this Sunday morning segregation.

It’s not a multicultural church if… (Pt. 2)

613998In April, I talked about the ways in which being a multicultural church is easier said than done.  How I wish that our faith would be enough to bring us together.  Because it is more than enough if we would allow it.  Our shared relationship with Jesus Christ is enough to bring us to the Lord’s table if we would put down our privileges and entitlements.  Still, we want God to sit down with us and not them.

Praying hands should be able to hold hands, to join hands with persons of other cultures.  Voices lifted to God should be able to speak to persons of other cultures.  How is possible that God’s people, Jesus followers practice racism, prejudice and stereotyping?  Surely, we have forgotten his commandments.  Obviously, we are not following in Christ’s footsteps.

Sin is the biggest difference yet God did not allow this to come between us; instead God became like us in Jesus Christ.  But, we cannot get over the differences in our appearance, perspectives and traditions?  Yes, we pretend to for one day and a couple of hours on Sunday mornings.  Fooling no one.  Well, maybe just one– yourself.

But, time’s up.  The scales must come off.  If you read the list below, then your vision will return.

It might not be a multicultural church if…

  1.  The members of different cultures do not have a relationship with each other outside of the church, if they only see each other on Sunday mornings, if all they have found themselves to have in common is that they attend the same church.
  2. You cannot talk about race, racialized or race- related incidents with a measure of respect and understanding, without labeling or judging, without withdrawing from the conversation through silence, reverting to stereotypical assumptions or resignation because you are right and they are always wrong.
  3. Your talking about race threatens your relationship with other cultures, if there is an unspoken rule that we don’t bring race up around here and if someone does, they are ostracized (because race has nothing to do with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, our faith, worship, right?).
  4. You don’t know the cultural cues, customs and traditions of the other cultural groups represented and you don’t see a need to.
  5. You speak disparagingly about the dress of other cultures, critique, criticize or seem confused by their hairstyles or clothing choices or see their appearance as something to be tolerated (if only in your mind).
  6. You speak of the other cultures represented as persons to be fixed, helped, aided and view yourself as the source of their change (if only said to persons of your cultural group).
  7. You see the cultures represented as an internal missions project, a do- it- yourself renovation of those people (Remember: You don’t have to say it; you need only think it and operate from this premise.).

I hope that this post is challenging.  It might even upset you.  And if it does, ask yourself why?

One last thing, sitting on the same pew does not make you a multicultural church.  It’s more than a new seating arrangement.  We will all need to come a whole lot closer if we are to be a true multicultural church.