June 2, 2020
Dear FUPC Family and Friends,
Our country confronts a difficult time. Still in the midst of a pandemic, we are now facing the reality of racism. Of course, this racism has always been with us, but occasionally, it sends up a flare that we can’t help but see. As Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in an opinion piece for the LA Times, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.” Right now, we should be seeing it in all the places it lives. Jesus calls us to step up and to offer help for what we see going on around us—the continued difficulties brought on by pandemic and, even more so, the racism and yes, white supremacy that we find it so easy to ignore when the flare has burned out.
But first, we lament. As we are taught by the psalmists and the prophets, we need a time to lament the evil around us and the times we feel abandoned by God. This Sunday, we will focus our worship on that lament. We will acknowledge God’s steadfast love but we will also acknowledge that we are living in a dark time when it can seem all too possible that God has forgotten us. We will take time to lament our darkness, to lament our struggles with pandemic and uncertainty, and to lament what is not right in our world—especially the evil of racism. We will be reminded that in God there is hope. During this worship service, we will have an opportunity to anoint ourselves, to remind ourselves that through Christ we have the power and strength to stand up to what is wrong. Please have with you a wee bit of oil or perfume or water for the anointing as you Zoom in to worship on Sunday. It takes just a drop or two.
Now I implore you: Do not deceive yourself into thinking that a worship of lament is enough lamenting. And do not deceive yourself into thinking that lament is all we need be doing. We are called to lament, but also to keep the flare burning, to work to see and understand what our black and brown brothers and sisters are trying to tell us, and to actively put an end to a practice so ingrained in the fabric of our lives that those of us who are white often don’t see it.
Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber writes:
I am persuaded that the venom of white supremacy runs deeply in us as a country and a people, for a very specific reason: because the fangs that delivered it were given not the devil’s name, but God’s. When slavery, genocide and land theft is established as “God’s will”, it delivers a poison that can infect the deepest parts of a country while exonerating evil.. . . Wokeness and policy change and celebrating diversity are [a] start, but not nearly enough to dig out the full infection. We must repent of the original sins of this country. Christian sins. Because the toxic heresy of God-ordained domination is a spiritual malady, not a cosmetic one.
These are powerful words. They are words that should bring us up short. They are words that compel examination and research and a desire to understand what it means that we live in a nation built on the Doctrine of Discovery and slavery. I am heartened to learn that many people seem to be doing just that. When I tried to order a few books to read so that I could choose a book on this topic for our July book study, I found many of them backordered. Indeed, our first job beyond lamenting what is exposed right now is to listen—truly listen—to what we need to hear. That means taking the initiative to learn and discuss and keep the focus where it needs to be: on digging out the infection of white supremacy.
There is so much I don’t know or understand about racism, but I am compelled to learn. I hope you will lament with me; I hope you, too, will feel compelled to learn. I hope we all will commit to following the people of color who will lead us at this time.
With thanks for all of you,