Thinking Together Column 3/8/2016

Now that Highland hosted (so wonderfully!) the public event on race with Edward Baptist, I hope we can engage in conversation about racism and our response as a body of believers. The Justice Ministry Group and I will ask for a forum in the coming weeks where we can think together about how Highland is called to play a role in advocating for God’s justice on earth as in heaven, and more specifically how we can lead in the movement called EmpowerWest.

This is a topic near and dear to many of you for most of your adult lives. Something in you intuits that racism and white privilege are, in Jim Wallis’ words, America’s Original Sin. It affects virtually every aspect of our culture.

I realize it is uncomfortable for a predominantly white congregation. But no church is more equipped “for such a time as this” than Highland. It’s our day.

It’s why we need to practice and practice being the church.

Yesterday, Terri and I were confronted with the reactive fear of a driver who was set off by our car’s “equal sign” denoting our support of marriage equality. We were waiting to merge onto a busy street when a middle-aged driver pulled up next to us and began berating us for our car blocking the sidewalk, requiring a cyclist (who shouldn’t be on the sidewalk) to swing into the street (the driver failed to note that he too was pulled onto the sidewalk next to us). “You have a sign on your car about loving everybody, but you obviously don’t love the cyclist, you #%)$,” he screamed as he spun away.

We enter a season in our national life where vitriol, misidentified anger, fear, and xenophobia are rampant. People will quickly feel offended and justify their attack.

Now is the time for us to practice being Christ-like. To love enemies. To listen behind their presenting charges to where their real anger and fear lies.

This is hard, hard work. It will require our best prayer life, our most surrendered souls to stand, as did our Lord, and Jean and Grundy Janesabsorb rather than return the rage.

What a great time to be the church!   ~ Joe


P.S. While seeing family in Florida we stopped to see some of our church family— Grundy and Jean Janes, now living in St. Augustine.