Skip to main content

bring it into the light

About a week ago, Isabella and I were coloring in a Bible coloring book and she asked for the pink marker because she wanted to color Jesus’ skin. I asked if Jesus’ skin color could be brown and she said no. We launched into a beautiful and awkward conversation about skin color. Did God make people with pink skin and black skin? Yes.

I could have left it at that, but I knew it was my responsibility as her mother to start to tell her what kind of world we’re actually living in. “There are times when people don’t like someone else just because their skin is a different color.” She said, “but God loves all the colors.”

Yes, God does love all the colors.... And I had no idea what else to say.

This week we mourn the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Lorne Ahrens.

There are many things I could say right now. I could repeat my entire message from early May on white privilege. That as as long as we can choose not to pay attention, we have privilege. Or we could talk about the time Jesus healed a man blind from birth. Jesus helped him really see. And that Jesus is willing to do the same for us. Or we could talk about how everyday things can heal like honest conversation, building new relationships, deep listening, letting go of assumptions, being curious. But we’ve already talked about those things.

So today I want us to do two things. First, I want us to lament. Lament is a long biblical tradition of prayer that includes expressions of complaint, anger, grief, despair and protest to God. Many of us have never been taught this way of praying. Instead we were taught to praise God, but not to protest. To petition God, but not interrogate. But God can handle our lament.

Lament is a place to begin to respond to sin, evil, brokenness and the complexity of what it means to be human beings. It’s tempting to jump to problem-solving but our work is in vain if we don’t first lament.

Secondly, we can certainly keep holding prayer vigils. Prayer always helps ground us in God’s reality. But prayer alone is not acceptable anymore. Our prayers shape and prepare us for action.

If you would like to be a part of conversations about reconciliation in our town, please leave a note on the bulletin insert today. We’ll gather on an evening in August to pray, dream and wonder about what God could do through us. Several other churches are interested in partnering together to see what we could do together. Even if it’s simply to gather, share stories and truly listen to people in our community, that is a holy step towards welcoming God’s kingdom in this place.

So there you go my friends. Lament and talk about it. Talk about racism with your family today. Talk about privilege. Bring it into the light. That’s how we dismantle evil. Light is greater than darkness. 

As our kids remind us, “God loves all the colors.” Until everyone in the world knows that too, our work continues. Amen.

Comments

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…