“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
In my June 14 sermon I named a number of things that we might do as Jesus followers to work on behalf of justice and racial equality. They included listening to the cries and laments of our black and brown siblings, learning about white culture, supremacy and institutional racism and then discerning the work that God is calling you into.
So I have been listening. I attended a zoom seminar put on by the European Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice, an association of the ELCA that began in 2008. The mission of the EDLARC is: To be a visible and nameable anti-racist witness for a cross cultural church. It’s motto is: Awaken Hearts. Confront Injustice. Inspire Transformation. (To find out more about EDLARC, go to its Facebook page)
Near the end of the seminar, Shari Seifert (one of the facilitators) invited us to take action in 3 ways:
- Attend the Emanuel Nine Commemoration on June 17 (which I did)
- Read the book, Dear Church, by the Rev. Lenny Duncan (which I pledge to do)…I heard Lenny speak about a year ago at Luther Seminary. He is a black, gay, ELCA pastor who has some things to tell all of us in the ELCA, the whitest denomination in the U.S.
- And be on the watch for “Right to Comfort” and challenge it. Now this is one thing I needed to learn more about. “Right to Comfort” is an interesting little term. It refers to the belief that the dominant culture deserves to be protected from the harsh realities of racism. Shari said in her remarks that it’s the urging of white people to “use softer words”, not to be so inflammatory when engaging in the hard work of dismantling racism. I think that an example of “right to comfort” might be when we hear the phrase “I don’t see color”. It makes us feel superior, “I couldn’t possibly be racist” because I only see “people”. White privilege is so firmly embedded in our way of life that it is only we who are white that have the “privilege” of not seeing color. The different ways that our black and brown siblings are viewed and treated are most definitely because of their color and we need to uncomfortable with that.
Dear Friends, I’m trying to learn and listen every day. This is not going to be for a few more weeks and then it’s back to business as usual (indeed, we will never be “back to normal”. Too much has changed in this country and world). I’m praying that God will help me discern what my “call to action” is…I suspect it might have something to do with teaching, preaching and writing about what I’m learning. But whatever I do, I yearn for transformational change for all of us as individuals, as a church, as a denomination, as a state, as a country.
And I pray that whatever I do or say is in the name of our Lord Jesus and that it honors our heavenly Father.
Peace to all of you. Be well. Stay safe. Pastor Kisten