This past week in worship, we focused on our need to prepare while waiting as the disciples did in the upper room when they waited for the gift of the Spirit. Taking a pause to pray, listen, be still and know God. We know, however, that our call does not end here. As people of faith we pray in order to engage in prayerful action. Both are imperative. Neither should stand alone. Neither can be faithful in and of itself. I pray we move forward seeking this needed balance – prayer that guides our action, action that guides our prayer – especially as we are called to continue the long-arching work toward justice to address and transform the racism that lies at the foundation of  our country.  Hearing the news of the murder of George Floyd and the protests and riots that have followed (and this so soon after the news of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Sean Reed), we cannot ignore this persistent, unrelenting beast with which we live.

I have said it before: it is not enough to intellectually know and understand about racism. It is not enough to identify it, though naming it is a must. It is not enough to say you are against it, say our congregation is against it , and not take note of the ways it lives among us. We must be able to see it within ourselves, our church, and our community, and confess our sin. Racism is sneaky, biases at work without us always being aware. We must tell the truth about our history and our present to ourselves and our children. We must be the church that prays and prayerfully acts to uphold, value, protect, and celebrate the precious imago dei, image of God, in every human being. We must confess the ways in which we benefit from any and all systems that act otherwise and work to dismantle them.

It is not always clear what steps to take in this work. For starters, today I share with you a reflection from a Methodist colleague in North Carolina, the Reverend Shawn Blackwelder, which you can view on Facebook. I also invite us to join in the deep sentiments and prayer of the Rev. Terri Hord Owens below:

I want a church that loves so courageously that we will stand up and insist that the killing of black and brown people must stop, and will work to remove those in office who fail to enact laws and policy accordingly.
I want a church that loves so radically that we are always putting up chairs to make room for more, always leaving empty chairs at the table, expecting that many more will come, turning no one away.
I want a church that loves so generously that our priority will be the elimination of poverty, to ensure that everyone has enough to eat, safe and decent housing, healthcare, a living wage and quality education that is not based on your zip code.
I want a church that loves so creatively that we are willing to dismantle structures, traditions, and processes that dishonor humanity and marginalize any among us.
I want a church that loves so completely that we are not satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I want a church that follows Jesus, and is therefore committed to work for all of this. Let’s get to work, church!