And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
These words, Mary’s response to God’s plans for the world to be fulfilled in her son Jesus, have been ringing in my ears. I imagine you, like me, are finding yourself grieved and distressed over the events of the last week, and as they unfold we cannot escape the reality that we are still facing the seriousness of COVID-19. Let me say first as a pastor and as a Christian: Racism is a sin. White supremacy is a sin. In this conversation our country is having right now it is easy for us to pretend this is a political issue, but as someone wise told me this week, what we are facing right now is social; it is fundamentally human.
Some of you have expressed a desire to do something real and tangible now, even while you are constrained by factors that make you at serious risk in contracting COVID-19 (including your age group).
First, I invite you to pray. Something that is so fundamental to our faith, pray for those who are protesting, pray for peace, pray for safety. Starting next week, we will have some open hours in which you can come by and pray in our Family Living Center/Sanctuary. For those who are interested, I also have information about a 12 hour prayer vigil happening via Zoom on Friday, 6/5/2020 and organized by a Disciples clergy-person I know.
Second, I invite you to amplify the voices of others who so often do not have their voices heard. Share their words, hear their stories, prayerfully listen. Some of the things they have to say may make you feel uncomfortable. I encourage you to fight through that discomfort. If you are interested in reading more on particular issues, reach out to me and I would be happy to point you to particular books and resources.
As I hear Mary’s words, I am reminded that in the world she lived in, things were not as God envisioned. Through the promise of Jesus, she saw a world that would be turned on its head. We know that our world today does not match that vision either, but as Christians who desire to live a life that reflects God’s message of love for all people we must sing Mary’s song in our hearts, in our communities, and in our world.
We as Christians love God, profess to walk in the way of Jesus, and hold our sacred scriptures dear. And yet, we know that our Bible and sacred scriptures have been used as justification for slavery, Jim Crow laws, and so much more race, gender and sex based injustice in our own country. We are called to repent from sin. Repentance means to recognize our wrongdoings, turn away from them, and commit to change in our actions and words. In order to repent from the sin of racism we must know what we are turning away from. Right now that means we must not turn away from what is unfolding before our very eyes. Our brothers and sisters are hurting and grieving from centuries of systematic oppression in our country, and there are forces who wish to co-opt their righteous anger for violence and destruction. These forces include white supremacists and other groups who are intentionally and deliberately inciting violence in the midst of peaceful protests.
Avon Christian Church is a place where we proudly proclaim all are welcome. Not only do you believe all are welcome, you accept, celebrate and embrace people as God created them to be. And yet, we are a congre-gation that is predominately and overwhelmingly white. During the weekend of the vote where you called me to be your pastor, as I met with our Elders, one Elder noted that even though Avon and Hendricks County have become more diverse in recent years, ACC has not. Since I have arrived other conversations have emerged about race and where ACC falls in the midst of that conversation. Current events have now made it imperative for us to facilitate that conversation in a more intentional way. Stay tuned for information in the next week about a special Bible study group on racism and the history of the Church.
We also understand that many of you have children and grandchildren who may be asking tough questions right now. I would recommend that you offer truthful and age-appropriate answers. There are lots of re-sources out there to help you navigate the conversation with children and youth, but here are a few to get you started.
Peace, Pastor Danielle
October 26, 2020
May 27, 2020
May 12, 2020