Now is the autumn of our discontent. On this second day of fall, Colin Kaepernick and countless other athletes are kneeling during the national anthem. More African-Americans have inexplicably been killed by police bullets. Bombs are going off in New York City. And protests are disrupting life in Charlotte and have at times turned violent.
As bombs go off in New York we’re forced again to grapple with challenging conversations surrounding Muslims and immigrants. And, sadly, much of the political and religious rhetoric surrounding all of the events of the last week betrays an unsettling level of prejudice and seems specifically calculated to prey upon our fears.
US Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents a portion of the Charlotte community, said that the protesters there are angry not over the hard to explain death of another black man, but because they “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”
This week of unrest follows a bit of a lull that may have allowed us to forget police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, and the tragic targeting of police officers in Dallas just a few months ago. But now we are reminded.
And, this week happens in a context where it’s somehow become controversial to acknowledge that African-Americans continue to face daily obstacles and challenges that the rest of us don’t—controversial to acknowledge that prejudice is real and that the legacy of racism persists in every corner of our nation. But unfolding events seem to be removing any doubt.
So what are we to do? How do we act in this climate? Do we kneel or stand? Do we march in protest or stay home? Do we wade into political waters or stay silent? Those aren't "one size fits all" questions. Those are decisions we each need to make for ourselves.
But there is one thing that's true for all of us. Whether we kneel or stand before the American flag pales in importance to whether we’re willing to kneel before the throne of God—and not just to ask for guidance in challenging times, but to beg for forgiveness for the roles we have played in getting us to this point in our national history.
Forgiveness for our own prejudices. Forgiveness for giving in to our own fears. Forgiveness for feeding divisiveness. Forgiveness as white American Christians for our indifference to the needs of our more vulnerable brothers and sisters of differing races, religions and ethnicities.
I’m reminded this week of how important it is to model holiness, health and wholeness in our communities. So I hope that some of the things we’re doing at HERITAGE right now will help us as we seek to be faithful Christians in this unusual American climate.
I hope REST on Wednesday nights is helping us to be holy. I hope it’s helping us to listen for and recognize the real voice of God, so that when someone tells you that the voice of God is heard in terrorizing bomb blasts or the hateful rhetoric that inevitably follows, you can say, “No, you’re wrong. I spent some time with God last Wednesday, and that’s not what God sounds like.”
I hope that our HERITAGE Home Groups are helping us to form healthy relationships that encourage us to stand together to reject division, hatred and fear—relationships that encourage us to see that in our common humanity there is far more that unites us than divides us.
And, I hope that in our HERITAGE Home Groups we are forming healthy relationships with the larger purpose of building whole communities together.
We are a divided nation. Our communities are fractured across so many lines it’s hard to see a productive way forward. As we watch that fracturedness play itself out in hateful political rhetoric and kneeling football players, in bomb blasts and the religious divisiveness that follows, in the misfired guns of police officers and the misguided actions of protesters, we have a responsibility to represent something different--to model and embody some sense of wholeness.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to speak across the fracturedness to remind our neighbors that we need each other and to point through all the clutter to the true nature of God.
Holy. Healthy. Whole. Is that seared into your memory yet? At HERITAGE we seek to be HOLY individuals who are forming HEALTHY relationships to build WHOLE communities together. Our community needs us to model holiness, health and wholeness now more than ever.
Thank you for your partnership in that journey.
See you Sunday.