As one we can say we are tired of COVID 19 and all the circumstances that surround it. Most of all, we are all just so tired of uncertainty. Personally, I like to have a plan for life’s ride, the direction, how fast, and when. I like to know where things are leading, and currently none of us do. For me there is a lot of “I” misplaced there. God has always been in control, and He always will be.
God has a plan, and He wants what is good for me. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 While Coronavirus has taken a lot away, and continues to do so, God is in control and has good in mind for us … but the ride may not necessarily be what we expect, we may even have to shift. God’s promise is good, but how do we put that into our day? Silver Lining.
With every uncertainty and every canceled or rescheduled event, we have the opportunity to make a choice, to look for the silver lining to find the hope and the promised good future. For me that produces mixed results. Sometimes it is easy to find, sometimes not at all and brings with it frustration and other emotions, but, God is in control.
So what is on my silver lining list of good and hopeful things? Likely it contains some of the same things that are on your list. In my case, more choice over how time is spent appears to come up in several ways: a slower pace with my family that has given me more time to really know them, opportunity to choose deep over efficient conversations, time to extend into God’s Word, time to think, time to miss fellowship and all that it gives me, time to savor what fellowship I do have, and time to care for myself.
Let's look for the silver lining. While a lot has been taken away from us and it is devastating and tiring, it stinks, and, well, enough already with this pandemic! Let's desperately hang onto the search for a silver lining and the promise that God has a good future for us and will lead us home, like He eventually did the Israelites in Jeremiah. In fact, let's return to His truth, and hang onto it with white knuckles. God is in control in uncertainty.
“Say hi first” is possibly the best, most impactful piece of advice/training I have ever received. It is so simple to say but in real life not easy to do.
I was at a week long training event when I joined Young Life staff. Throughout the week we heard really good content but there is one presenter who cut through all the “information” and presented a three word statement encapsulating way of thinking about life and mininstry. I have tried to implement in my life, forgot about it, and then remind myself again (over and over).
“Say hi first”
“Say Hi First” is about being the one to initiate or move toward people, Everyone wants someone else to initiate toward them. It feels good when someone else says Hi to us or invites us over to dinner. We all want to be wanted. In all relationships someone has to say hi first. His encouragement to us was to be that person. He said “be the one to take the risk.”
God says hi first.
He spoke everything into existence. He called Moses.
He spoke to the prophets.
He came to us in the person of Jesus.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” John 1:14
Jesus says hi first.
Jesus didn’t post a craigslist ad “NOW HIRING Apostles. ONLY 12 spots available, apply today” and then sit back, review applicants and set up interviews.
To Peter Andrew and Phillip all responded to “come follow me”
James and John were called by Jesus and they followed
Jesus said hi first to Zacheus while he was up in a tree.
To the woman at the well he started a whole dialogue by asking for a drink of water. To Saul the voice of Jesus called out “Saul Saul, why do you persecute me?”
These are weird times. It's harder than ever to connect with people. We don’t have situations where we just “run into folks.” Say hi first could help kick start some of those connections.
Maybe you could try it? Good things may come out of it.
Let me prime the pump with some practical ways to say hi first.
“Say hi first” to the folks you normally would sit near on a Sunday morning by making a phone call.
“Say hi first” by bringing fresh cut flowers, or zucchini or sourdough bread to a neighbor or friend.
“Say hi first” when you are walking by people.
“Say hi first” by texting someone that you were thinking of them and that you hope they have a great day.
“Say hi first” without expectation that it will be reciprocated.
“Say hi first” by starting a small group.
“Say hi first” to the leaders in your life. Especially the ones that initiate toward you.
“Say hi first” to people of different cultures, colors, ages and lifestyles.
“Say hi first” to those closest to you. Family and friends, even your spouse.
Please share a way you might “Say hi first” in your circumstances.
In the last months have you found it easy to go down the rabbit hole of fear, uncertainty, or even despair?
I’m assuming we all have gone from what we thought was some sense of worldly security to what seems to be all unknowns. Who would have thought that we’d be talking about, researching, and worrying about any of these things- sickness, unemployment, furloughs, isolation, masking, or social distancing?
Who could have guessed when the year 2020 started it would turn out like it has? 2020 was supposed to a celebration year for me. It was 20 + 20 years since I began my career as an optometrist. 20/20 is a term I use every day. It means to see clearly. I wish I still had that 20/20, clear, optimistic view of the year. It feels like I’m seeing a fuzzy 20/400 view when I try to see through the blur of the current uncertainties we face.
I know I should have enough faith not to be scared. To be honest, sometimes I feel okay, yet sometimes I so easily go down that rabbit hole of despair. The last months have been a prime example of the whole world in chaos. We are fighting against dark spiritual forces, and the enemy wants us to be afraid.
What can we do when we find ourselves heading down that rabbit hole? There is no worldly answer that gives real comfort and lasting peace. The experts can’t tell us when we will be “safe”, if this screening test is reliable, or when we can worship and sing together again. The world as we have known it has been turned upside down and fails to give us any dependable advice.
The only answers are in the unwavering and everlasting promises of Jesus Christ. God has given us the tools to survive and even to find joy in the middle of this mess. Is it a constant joy? No, we all will be tempted to head down that rabbit hole. What are some tools God has given us? His Word and the ability to pray. God’s Word can be read, recited, or memorized, to pull us out of the hole and place us on the path of trust, joy, and even hope. God has given us the gift of prayer to unburden ourselves. Not knowing the perfect words to use doesn’t matter to Him, and starting with a passage can help us reflect and release our burdens to Jesus.
God wants us to use His Word and ask for the gift of enduring peace, the peace which defies understanding, the peace which only He can provide, the peace He offers to us not just once, but over and over again. With that peace will come the gift of hope, a hope for each of us and one we can share with others. What an opportunity we have during the mess of this world to share the unchanging, enduring promises that God gives us.
God’s Word does not change, it is alive, and is the true source of comfort.
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
When I was a teenager there was a popular rock 'n' roll song , “there’s a whole lotta shakin goin on.” The title popped into my thoughts yesterday as I was contemplating what I might write for this blog post. While that title and it’s lyrics have nothing to do with what God has to say on the subject, still I found the title applicable to where we all reside at this current moment in our history.
We are rattled, shaken....by COVID-19, by quarantine, isolation, by civil unrest, by uncertain finances, job losses, by lack of social interactions in and out of church, by faces hidden by masks, by illnesses, death, and losses, by the inability to give and receive handshakes or hugs, by lack of school for our children, lack of weddings, funerals, celebrations, sports, and community gatherings, and the list goes on.
What does God say about all this?
Hebrews 12:26 b -28 NLT
“ Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”
The words “once more” indicate the removal of what can be shaken-that is the created things- so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore , since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire”
The writer to the Hebrews says everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Are you feeling it? There’s nowhere to hide. There’s a feeling of an ongoing earthquake rattling everything beneath our feet. This has only just begun.
God says He’s removing some “created” things, so that what’s eternal will remain.
We’ve been given a road map to navigate through this strange time.
We are encouraged to be thankful and so worship God acceptably and with awe. Our very act of thankfulness is worship. I cannot be thankful without a spirit of submission to the providence and goodness of God.
When my daughter’s house burned last November, in the midst of all the emotions of loss and shock she began a thankful list. Suddenly homeless, on the day of the fire she told her girls she was watching for what God would do in the circumstance. The list grew and grew as God walked with them and provided everything they needed...and she was thankful.
And so she worshipped with reverence and awe.
How can I worship God today? I can consciously thank Him in the midst of God’s shaking of everything.
Jesus says in John 15: 1-5 (NIV): I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
I am a doer. I often get restless if I stay in one place too long. “Remaining” feels like hard work! I would much rather be doing, moving, creating, fighting for a cause…..
If I am “doing” I know I have a purpose; I know I am propelling towards something worthwhile.
And yet, Jesus promises that I will bear fruit when I remain in Him. Somehow the slow, quiet process of remaining in Jesus generates good things beyond anything I could ever produce on my own.
Isn’t bearing fruit my end goal? If I really think about it, isn’t bearing fruit what I want my doing, moving, creating, and fighting-for-a-cause to result in? If so, then I must stop trying to do it all on my own.
What a privilege and gift! When I remain, Jesus does all the work and I get to be a bearer of things that last - like goodness, gentleness, and patience (yes please!!).
A while back I realized my “doer” mentality.
I came across these verses in John and the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me forget them. One way I like to process is through songwriting. I wrote a song that confessed my struggle to remain and my desire to push all distractions aside.
I wanted to reserve my “Hallelujahs” - my expressions of worship - for Jesus alone.
Here is the song I wrote. My hope is that it does not push you towards anything new to “do.” In fact, I hope it can slow your “doing,” settle you into remaining, and let Jesus do the rest of the work. He loves bearing fruit with you!
“Remain” – such an easy thing to say,
Not such an easy thing to do.
Oh God there are so many distractions
Pulling me away from You.
I need some sort of realignment,
Like an instrument in need of repair.
Finetune me so that the songs I sing
Are for You, and You only, to hear!
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
“Remain” – the absence of going astray.
The contentment of knowing I’m here to stay.
Like a branch growing from a vine,
Permanently and undeniably alive!
Surely this is how it’s meant to be.
It must be the greatest irony.
That in all the world the only way
To really live is to just Remain.
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
I’m giving back to You, “Hallelujah.”
“Remain” – It’s not about what I say.
It’s not about what I do.
Jesus, I just want to be….with….You
Lately, God is teaching me through seeing parallels between the work He’s given me as a teacher and the truths He wants me to own in my walk with Him as a follower.
In my work as a math teacher, I frequently talk about strengthening students’ “math identity." I know this isn’t something you might think much about, but it’s become a powerful label for so much of what I am passionate about in my work. To increase a student’s identity as a math thinker, I am intentional about creating opportunities and an environment that fosters the beliefs a student holds about themself as a mathematician. When they have this identity they have confidence to take risks, to offer their thinking to others to solve a problem and see solving difficult problems as something to enjoy and choose.
How then do I hold on to my “Christ identity” as a precious daughter of the King? What beliefs and practices reinforce His truth about my identity in Him, so that I can confidently go into this world overflowing with what I’ve been gifted.
He’s been gently encouraging me to claim my own identity, not as a mathematician, but as Christ’s chosen daughter. As my core beliefs change and take on more of His truth I know I will more confidently believe I am His and beloved. From this place of truth and strength, I can act confidently to take risks, engage with others from an overflow and choose Him as my first source of comfort and hope.
I find in the gospel that I’m woke to the right view of myself, and others, no matter where they're from, their gender, their sexual orientation, or their race. You see the gospel won't let me think too much of myself, but neither will it allow me to think myself as lowly. What I’m called to acknowledge is my fallenness, my need for redemption, and then I’m asked to look to the cross. I can take no credit for Christ’s work on the cross, but I can claim it. I can't earn its rewards, but I can receive them. I heard it said this way “the Christian knows he is more broken, sinful, and wicked than he could ever imagine, yet at the same time more loved, accepted and restored than he could ever hope”. It is awareness and acknowledgment of this reality that fosters the unique humility which marks a Christian. You see only in light of the gospel am I fully aware of who I am. Only at the foot of the cross do I understand the grace I’ve been shown, and this understanding fosters within me a sense of gratefulness, gratitude, and most of all humility. I carry this awareness with me as I go about my day, as I meet others, as I interact. Should I fail to grasp this reality even for a moment, and I sometimes do, the Holy Spirit is there with his hand on my shoulder. Yet he is not there to berate me, condemn me, or accuse me in the midst of my shortcomings and failures. He is there to lovingly remind, correct, and restore me. So you see the gospel is unmatched and unparalleled in all of human history. No other religion, no philosophical teaching, no social, cultural, or political movement can touch it when it comes to fostering a right understanding of oneself and others. Why? because it’s grounded in God’s truth. That truth says that all God’s creatures are created in his image and likeness, all are precious to him, and all are to be treated with dignity and respect. Remaining woke to this understanding is what I will seek all of my days.
I have had a deep love for the church my whole life. I grew up in the church; hard pews, Sunday school, potlucks, baptisms, summer camp and youth group. I even went to a Christian College. Why? Depending on what was going on in my life, if you had asked, you would have gotten a different answer every time.
During this season of Covid we have all been forced out of meeting together as a church. I want to challenge you to question how you feel about this. Really ask your self “why do I go to Church (or not)?”.
I’ve heard from a ton of people that they are really enjoying sleeping in, spending time with family and even listening to the message together as a family. There is nothing wrong with any of that. To many of you that has been a blessing. I can download or stream a sermon from just about anywhere in the world these days and stay in the comfort of my pajamas. In this new digital age you may be asking yourself, “do I even need to go to church?”.
The answer to that question for me is yes! I need community. When we are in community we have 3 things…The Presence of Christ himself, the prayers of believers and fellowship in our suffering. 1 Peter 5:8 says “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. I watch Animal Planet, the lion always picks off the one that is isolated from their herd. The Church is my herd! It’s where I see the invisible God, visible in His people. In the New Testament , we see young and old mixing, as older women and men are to teach younger women and men. We see people coming together to worship who come from all stages in life, different occupations, and different backgrounds. Paul taught that the social divides typical of most groups in society have no place in the church. The church should be a place of diversity , where each person can contribute to the whole.God has created and equipped you to be exactly who you are. Everyone in the herd is needed and plays a vital role.
Do you know why you go to church? Is it just a habit, a box to check off? Are you attending for what you get out of it? Or do you go because it’s your herd? I encourage you to pray, ask God about your role in His church. In the context of urging husbands to love their wives, Paul writes that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). There is nothing more that could be said to communicate and establish the importance of the church in our christian walk. Christ loves us and He shows that love in community.
When we find ourselves in a world that is uncertain and unsettled and the quest for inner peace seems a daily challenge, we can practice a simple exercise to keep our mind and heart in sync with the ‘Prince of Peace’. Using ‘maxims’ as reminders of the truth is one helpful tool.
Webster says, “A ‘maxim’ is a term that stresses the succinct formulation of a fundamental principle, general truth, or rule of conduct. Always short, maybe pithy.”
A maxim can be useful for relaying concepts, making them easy to remember for ourselves, as well as for sharing with another person. Here are a few of my current favorite maxims that help me walk with Jesus. Let’s unpack them together.
“To be born again you must believe in Jesus, but to have an effective ministry you must believe like Jesus.”
This is a reminder that our Kingdom journey begins with believing that Jesus paid the price for a new life in Him; but the continuing journey of growing & becoming more like Jesus requires a renewing of the way we think, i.e., to believe & think like Him. For instance, what does Jesus believe or how does He think about financial provision, health, neighbors, the world situation?
“Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:2, “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher [or perfecter) of our faith”.
Good news! You and I didn’t come up with faith to begin this journey! It was a gracious gift offered to us and our only part was to respond, “Yes, Lord, thank you”
Jesus began our faith and continues to develop it as we cooperate with Him. We are not responsible to struggle to generate faith. We only need to “look” to Him and yield to His work in us, and we will find that more and more we believe like Jesus. (Then comes the responsibility to steward the increase He gives us and put it to work, but that’s another topic for later!)
“We are to bear fruit, not do fruit”
This maxim reminds us that the “fruit of the Spirit” found in Gal. 5:22,23 (Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.) is His work to do, not ours.
Yes, as Christ followers we are to become more and more like Jesus. It is easy to fixate on trying to do patience or do self-control but trying harder is unproductive and exhausting! We can’t produce fruit! It isn’t our job! It is Holy Spirit’s. Our role is to host Holy Spirit in and upon us, then carry and put on display His fruit.
Jn 15:4, “Abide (remain) in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides (remains) in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me”. Our ‘job’ is to abide in Him.
You might be asking, ‘What is hindering Holy Spirit producing more of His fruit in my life?’
Good question to ask Him!
I propose that the lack of peace is an indicator that we are believing something different than Jesus is believing. It’s back to maxim #1, believe like Jesus.
To have increasing fruit requires what scripture calls “mind renewal” (Rom 12:2). The outcome of mind renewal is effortless transformation, allowing for more fruit on display through our life.
What does mind renewal look like?
Here is one exercise:
You were designed to know His voice so trust that you will receive life-giving insight! After receiving from Him you may be surprised by Holy Spirit fruit!
Bonus question if fear or lack of peace is your issue:
4. Jesus, You’ve seen the news… Is this not an appropriate time to be afraid?’ Enjoy His perspective!
I often hold back from posting about issues of justice on social media— not because I think they are unimportant, but the opposite. I think that sometimes, platforms like Instagram and Facebook become a place for a performative activism, and especially a performative whiteness; one that lets us feel better and like we’ve “done our part” for reposting a trendy graphic that best fits our feeds’ aesthetic, instead of actively working to recognize our complicity in unjust and racist systems, and to dismantle them. I don’t want any part in that. Or, maybe, you don't say anything because you don’t know how or what. On the other hand, there are times when silence isn’t an option, for any of us, so I would ask that you pay attention— what is happening right now in our nation is not new, it is not surprising, and it is not how the world should be.
White friends, if you find yourself shocked, disturbed and heartbroken, a good place to start is by seeking to learn around issues that many folks in our communities don’t have the option to ignore. Some books that have been especially helpful to me as starting points are at the bottom. We’re going to have a conversation here that I hope you are willing to consider—this is not a conversation about the police, about who’s “right,” conspiracy theories, or what happened to that nice Weisz girl while she was away at college. This isn’t me telling you your life hasn’t been hard or carried suffering—I know that it has. I also know that if you are white like me, your suffering may have been enormous, but it hasn’t been because of the color of your skin, and that we have benefited directly and indirectly from a broken system. I know these conversations are hard, and I want you to hear that I’m not here to shame you—I’m here because I want to be honest about my own sin and ignorance, and have a conversation about repentance and awareness with you, my friends and family, and then to point you to people who have helped me learn and grow.
It is important to acknowledge here that I don’t live the experience of being a person of color in America. There are many wiser voices than I who can and should speak firsthand to this experience- some to learn from are listed below. It also feels important to say that I am still learning, still growing in my theology of how to discuss issues of race and that I recognize that I will get stuff wrong, and that scholars will devote their entire lives to these questions and only skim the surface. However, I see my own sin, ignorance, and complicity in these issues, and humbly ask you to join me in learning to do differently.
Friends— justice and reconciliation are key tasks of the church, and part of what it looks like to bring about the Kingdom of God. Amos writes “I hate all your show and pretense—the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. (Amos 5:24) In this chapter, God is saying that he’s fed up with the perversion of justice, and with systems that trample on the poor and the truthtellers, that oppress people who have done nothing wrong. God will no longer accept the normal worship of the people-- the offering God desires is justice, and righteous living.
bell hooks writes “I have come to see that silence is an act of complicity” and I think this is a word to the white evangelical church—to myself, and to all of us. Our time to protest that we did not and do not engage in racist and discriminatory practices within the walls of the big “C” church is over, because it is untrue. Our time (especially as members of predominantly white churches who may have been privileged enough to not daily encounter questions of race) to ignore these topics is over. If we are committed to the whole gospel, which teaches earth-shaking equality, then we must actively seek both a church and a nation that names and confronts sin where we see it, and names a lack of inclusion and even white supremacy as issues the church must repent of. This isn’t about being “politically correct” or voting a certain way—this is a different conversation: one about admitting our group and individual sin when we recognize it, and actively doing different things.
Scripture teaches that there is no “Jew or Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28) but we have to recognize that as much as this is true, it is also true that this verse has been used as a weapon to ignore issues of race and gender within the church. These are not words to hide behind; they are words that should invite us to seek this image of the Kingdom of God as a reality. One of my favorite passages is in Revelation- where we find out that “every tribe and every nation” will be at the wedding feast of the Lamb. The Greek is fairly clear that this means we’ll all still have our languages and cultural identity— heaven isn’t all of us becoming the same, but all of us bringing our own selves to a wedding feast.
An important part of this process is to look at ourselves first, and this is part of what the Holy Spirit can do for us. We just celebrated Pentecost-- a time when all sorts of people were united in this unique movement of the Spirit. We can ask the Spirit for new eyes to see ourselves and our brothers and sisters and lament our corporate and personal sin and complicity in systems of injustice when it is revealed to us. Scripture describes lament-- which is a fancy Bible word for being sorry and sad and saying it-- as an important part of repentance; as people who are confronted with our sin, and our nation’s broken parts, we should name it and mourn it like the prophets before us have done. Notably, sometimes we sin by simply participating in things that benefit us and harm others, and the Old Testament is filled with examples of Israel’s need to repent from doing that.
Education can play an important role in helping us to own our failure, as well as shaping our lament; but in learning we can also find freedom in how we move forward. As Christians we see the reality of the world, and resist the temptation to play pretend, while also living in abundant hope that though this world is broken, it is not how things will always be. Pastor Eugene Cho offered some helpful language for the church around our most recent news, writing,
“sometimes, in a broken world, people use broken means to convey the pain of their oppression. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once shared, "A riot is the language of the unheard."
Now, in the same sermon entitled "The Other America" which also gives the quote above, Dr. King additionally shares, "Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating..." In other words, he's articulating the tension that some of us feel but don't necessarily live and embody: Pain at the sight of chaos and violence but deeper pain behind what caused these actions.
This is why we have to stay engaged and keep listening...and be moved to action and solidarity.
Why? Because calling for peace without a demand for justice is another way of saying,
"Shhh. Don't rock the boat. Don't be divisive. It works for me. Isn't peace great?!"
Herein lies the difference between peacemaking and peacekeeping.”
Church, do you want to be peacekeepers or peacemakers? As we tell the story of the family of God to each other, we have a responsibility to both own our failings, but also learn from the people who have followed Jesus before us and beside us. We have a responsibility to make our churches a place where we embrace discomfort so that others might feel more comfortable; where we allow one another’s stories to touch and shape our own. As people called to a great hope, we believe that we live in the kingdom of the “now and the not yet” and we trust that even in the midst of great brokenness the Spirit is alive and well. I hope for the church to become a model for the kind of radical reconciliation that is only possible through the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope that we recognize that right relationship with one another and active work towards a world where all people are included and valued and safe is a fundamental reality of following Jesus.
I’d like to close with Theologian Miroslav Volf’s charge towards justice and reconciliation found in his work Exclusion and Embrace. Early in the book, he speaks of how hard it is to seek reconciliation, writing “the human ability to agree on justice will never catch up with the human propensity to do injustice.” This is true, I think, of our national reality. However, Volf then goes on to suggest a way towards justice that I think best describes my hope, writing:
“For those who stand in the…traditions of the scripture, no neutrality is in fact admissible. These people hear the groans of the suffering, take a stance, and act. Then, they reflect… take a stance again, and act. From their perspective, the grounds on which they take their stances and their judgements as to what is just are not merely expressions of their preferences….After all, they are called to seek and struggle for God’s justice, not their own. For them that justice is not only one among many possible and equally acceptable perspectives…it is the justice—even if they are fully aware that they grasp it only imperfectly and practice it inadequately, and even if they seek correction and enrichment from others with whom they disagree but cannot presume to be totally wrong.”
May we seek this justice and for our world over and over again, recognizing that we will get it wrong, but also that it is God’s justice and not our own that we’re seeking. May we choose discomfort and humility, knowing that it leads to learning and growth. Most of all, may Jesus be honored in what we do, and may the church become a better and more beautiful Bride as we are transformed to be more and more like Jesus.
Books to Start With:
A note: a few of those books may make you feel uncomfortable, defensive, or frustrated. You might want to say “this isn’t talking about me. I’m not like that.” I would encourage you to feel those feelings, and to ask yourself where they’re coming from. You don’t have to agree with everything you read, but don’t discount it just because it makes you uncomfortable. You don’t know what you don’t know—but once you take initiative to learn, you can do better—and you can be patient with yourself for what you did not know or do well, even as you seek to grow.
Books about people’s experiences
White Awake—Daniel Hill
White Fragility— Robin DiAngelo
I’m Still Here—Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness— Austin Channing Brown
Between The World and Me— Ta-Nehisi Coates
What are people talking about when they mention systemic injustice? Mass incarceration is a good place to start.
Just Mercy— Brian Stevenson (also, check out the movie based off this book, newly out and at Red Box in town!)
Rethinking Incarceration— Dominique Gilliard
The New Jim Crow— Michelle Alexander
The documentary 13th, available on Netflix
Education, children, and schools:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting at the Back of the Cafeteria? — Beverly Daniel Tatum
Prelude to Prison—Marsha Weissman
Christianity and Reconciliation
Roadmap to Reconciliation— Brenda Salter McNeil
The Color of Compromise-- Jemar Tisby
Divided by Faith -- Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson
A Credible Witness—Brenda Salter McNeil
Dream With Me—John Perkins
Exclusion and Embrace— Mirslov Volf
The Cross and the Lynching Tree- James Cone
https://www.saltermcneil.com/reconciliation-justice (videos and downloads for individuals, small groups, people in leadership in any job, and churches)