My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross,
an innocent man being executed by powers of the state.
As I’ve listened and sat at the feet of Black people, particularly Black women, these past few days since the execution of Daunte Wright, these words of lament fall out again and again and again – why are we being forsaken? Why are our black children being murdered? Why have white people turned their backs on their Black siblings so they can embrace the power found in white supremacy? This week in a meeting of United Methodist Church planters, a Japanese-American man shared similar pain as he talked about the hate leveled at Asian people in America, especially since the pandemic started and the shooting of six Asian-born women in Atlanta last month. Why, oh, why, are we being abandoned is the cry coming again and again and again from our Black Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) siblings and kin.
We know the answer our faith gives us – God has not ever forsaken the hurting, those on the margins, the oppressed. The God we believe in, the God that Jesus embodied, is a God always – always – on the side of those the world despises and abuses. But it’s time for us again as people who are white and who benefit from and live under the privileges of white supremacy to admit the hard truth – we white people are the ones who forsake and abandon our neighbors who are BIPOC. We are the ones who prop up a system that supports and maintains our power. We are the ones who need to lament and confess – confess our sin in siding with the principalities and powers of this world and lament our unwillingness to take concrete actions to break these systems and dismantle the supremacy that gives us privilege by nothing other than the virtue of our skin color.
We cannot be paralyzed by the overwhelming nature of confronting a system that kills and our roles in it. Lives depend on our awareness AND our action. As followers of Jesus, we are compelled to be people who pause in prayer and contemplation first. That’s exactly the model Jesus gives us; before he taught, before he healed before he even stood to confront the powers of the state that wanted him dead, he centered himself in God. But then – then the Spirit of God moves us into action. If you’re looking for specific ways you as a white person can begin dismantling these systems, I recommended several practices a year ago. Our commitment to the work has not changed.
This Sunday at our normal 10 a.m. worship time, we are set for Family Meeting via Zoom. Every couple of months we gather as a community so we can see each other and interact in real-time. This week, Lyndsey Medford will lead us in a time of lament and a recommitment to anti-racism. We will share updates on our plans for in-person gatherings, small groups for the spring, and get your feedback on the next stage of our life together. We’ve had so many people join us in the past several months from all over the East Coast! We can’t wait to see you on Sunday.
The work that we do as a community doesn’t ever really end. God has said, “Here is this beautiful world. Help me make it into a place of love, justice, peace, and hope. I need you.” I am so thankful that we get to do this work together. Our community is strong and powerful and changes the world in the way God envisions. I can’t wait to see you on Sunday as we take the next step with each other and with God. See you then!