After worship on Sunday, August 13, I began to reflect on the things I did and did not say in response to the events that transpired in Charlottesville, VA that weekend. As I reflected, I became somewhat dissatisfied with myself. I began to wish I had approached it differently. As a result, I sent the following letter to the people of Rock of the Foothills:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
First an apology and something of a confession. Looking back on Sunday morning, I wish I had said more in relation to the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. At Traditional worship, I prayed that we would be witnesses to the inclusivity of God’s Kingdom and at Rock 2:5 worship, I pointed out how the freedom God gives us in Christ is for all people. I still pray those things, but I wish I had spoken more strongly.
I confess that I tend not to very pay close attention to the news on the weekends. Consequently, I came to worship on Sunday without a clear understanding of just how bad the situation was. I suppose I hesitated to say more in part because of that.
I think the other reason I hesitated was that it felt a bit like “preaching to the choir.” To my knowledge, we have no white nationalists at Rock. Certainly as a family of God, we seek to be an inclusive and welcoming community. Saying racism is wrong simply seems like pointing out the obvious. We all know it. We may wrestle with our own sinful tendencies, but we know racism is wrong and we work towards a Godly, Kingdom view of the world and its people. I believe this is actually true of most people in our nation, but clearly not all.
Speaking as a person who looks a lot like those who marched for racism (white male), I especially apologize to those of you in our congregation who do not. I want you to know that I stand against them, both as an American and (more importantly) as a Christian.
We are a congregation that is mostly white, but not all white (praise God!). We love the diversity we have and we welcome more. Our lives are far richer because of it, being blessed by the diversity of humanity in God’s creation. And we will continue to pray for the health, safety and prosperity of people of all races.
Some of those who marched with the KKK call themselves Christians. Let’s be clear: Racism does not represent Christ in any way. Isaiah 56:7 says, “…my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” When Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers at the temple, he quoted that very verse (Mark 11:17). The Greek word for “nations” is ethnos. God’s house is for all ethnicities. All nations. All races. In fact, the witness of scripture from Genesis to Revelation is God’s vision of bringing all nations, people of every tribe and tongue, into his new creation. We will continue to be a church that lives for that vision.* And it’s important for the world to see the Christian church on earth living for that vision, especially now.
I’m writing this to you now because Lisa and I will be out of town this weekend. I didn’t mention that on Sunday because attendance always seems to drop a bit when I do (but that’s a topic for another time!). This Sunday is going to be very special. Scott McKeller will be sharing with you the experiences he had on his mission trip to the Passion Center in Malawi. Not only will he share pictures and stories, but also the spiritual impact the trip had on him. I urge you to attend. Come celebrate this part of God’s work for all nations. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in Malawi and in us!
Peace in Christ,
* In case you find all my talk about “kingdom living” a little confusing, that’s part of it!