You know when something happens, and it seems uneventful at the time, but then slowly you notice the little thing is changing how you think about something larger? Last fall, a racial incident happened at our local high school. A few community members, and folks from the school reached out to see if we would help.
Some students and parents were hurt, but those who were not offended wanted to quickly move past the event and say the issue had been resolved. As I stepped into the discussion, I was joined by some other friends with different skin color than mine. Most of these friends serve as pastors or ministry leaders in different areas in our city.
Our group now meets periodically, to get to know each other and share our experiences. We're willing to have difficult discussions about how we could help our city deal with issues related to race.
Through this event, and some other events in our nation, I want to see the Church be a part of healing racial strife in our community and in our nation. The Church isn’t ever going be the agent of change I want her to be, until I own my place and understand how to do my part. It has to be personal.
I believe our community, our city, our state and our nation would love to be able to look to the Church and see a group of people who love one another regardless of their skin color. In principle, we all agree, love one another.
While we agree on this principle, our busyness makes getting together a challenge. In addition, our different experiences cause discomfort when we talk about race. We’ve had to remind ourselves we share an eternal goal, to be the Church Jesus talked about in John 17 – perfectly one, so the world knows we belong to Him.
I was fortunate to meet with Pastor Joseph Parker at David Chapel. He said something to me I won’t forget. People have asked Pastor Parker to show up to different city events over the years, as an African American representative of the Church. He shared with me, “that sometimes I need them to show up to the things I hold dear.”
What a great description of how to truly love others – to show up to the things they hold dear!
If I am going to show up for those things, I have to know their name, where they work, their family and friends. It means making space in my schedule to be available to get to know someone else, likely in a different part of our city. I have to know them well enough to know what is dear to them. It requires time.
For us to be a beautiful example of what His love looks like, it will cost us something. But, like everything else we do for our Heavenly Father, when we surrender our time and plans, we wind up getting way more than we give.
One of many blessings for me on this journey is working with people like Sherwynn & Kim Patton, Pete Inman, and the pastors I work with at ACF (Patrick, Rick & Russell). We were able to attend the MLK50 conference together.
My friend Aaron Reyes, pastor of Church of the Violet Crown, is co-hosting an event this Thursday, May 17th, at 7 PM, at the For the City Center. The event is called “Standing with Dreamers.” As I have become friends with Aaron, he’s shared his heart for Jesus, and those in his community.
One of the issues dear to Aaron and his church is the plight of undocumented migrants, who arrived in the U. S. as children (dreamers). This event isn’t designed to be political. Instead, they want to talk about how we respond to God’s desire for justice and mercy, and how we have compassion for all of those made in His image.
“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26
Greater than our political affiliations and leanings, we have a responsibility how we love our brothers and sisters who are dreamers. If you can make time, I’d love for you to join us.
“Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12: 9-10