Yesterday I prefaced my sermon by making this statement to the congregation. I’ve edited it a little to make it more readable to a broader audience.
I’ve often heard it said in church that, “We should leave our worries outside and focus our minds upon God as we come to worship him.” There may be times where that is good advice. In general, I believe that worship provides an opportunity to bring our concerns to God, and to hear His response. Thus I provide this commentary this morning.
We come together today as a multi-ethnic group of Jesus followers as once again we see our TV screens and internet explode in racial violence. If you paid any attention to the events in Charlottesville over the past few days then like me you’re probably filled with many emotions. I’m not going to say a lot this morning, although I could.
Why should I say anything? Because it occurs to me that when Muslim extremists conduct acts of terrorism, one of the comments I hear most is, “Why don’t other peaceful Muslims condemn them?” So while I don’t believe that anyone here blames me for the events in Charlottesville, I don’t want to leave any question of my thoughts regarding this white supremacy rally and associated violence.
Let me clearly say this morning the white extremists who spew hatred, incite violence, and seek to use fear to intimidate, and who do so while claiming that God is on their side, do not represent white Christians as a whole and certainly do not represent the white Christians at this congregation. Furthermore, not only do these views not represent Christianity, they oppose God. It is not enough for us to say that the people on television don’t represent us. We condemn their actions. We condemn their violence. We condemn their hatred. We condemn their words. We condemn any attitude, theology, or philosophy that challenges the God-created value and equality of all people.
In addition, I ask each of us to make a particular effort this week to stand together in Christ. It is not sufficient for us to wag our finger at the television. We must take action to love in repsonse to others’ actions of hate.
To my white family I ask that you make an effort to demonstrate your faith conviction of God’s love toward people of all races. Spend time, a meal, or coffee, with an immigrant or ethnic minority. Listen to their thoughts on condition of race relations in the United States and our community in particular. Seek to understand them.
To my black family I ask that this week you make an effort to speak up for Christ, and remind your friends and family that you’ve experienced the true beauty of God’s multi-coloured family and it’s nothing like what we see on television. Invite people to come and experience your church. Invite people to Worship in the Park at the end of the month and encourage them to experience God’s love expressed through unity in diversity.
Specifically, one way that we can all demonstrate respect for each other and to display unity is to support the Gospel meeting at Central Church of Christ this Wednesday. I know not everyone comes out for Bible Class each Wednesday, and I know even less attend Gospel meetings, and I know that even less of our white members attend Gospel meetings at other churches. But this week, if you’re sickened by the racism you see and hear in other parts of the country, you have an opportunity to do something tangible. And I encourage you to do that.
Lastly, I want to say that I’m honored to serve this church family. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. Sometimes I’m insensitive, for which I value your grace. But I’m grateful that together we get to explore what it means to live life together as children of God.