Monthly Archives: September 2011
I came across this story today while catching up on Rick Chyme’s Blog. It is a tragic story about a racially motivated and senseless hate crime that lead to the death of James Craig Anderson in Mississippi. Seven teens attacked and taunted Anderson but it appears thus far only one teen, Deryl Dedmon has been indicted. While Dedmon is the one responsible for killing Anderson all of these kids should face charges for their involvement in a hate crime that lead to a fatality.
It seems stories about Racism have been in the news a lot lately. As the political season heats up allegations of Tea Party racism have once again been in the news. Of course this is nothing new. I mentioned this Tea Party related ordeal on this post back in January.
On the College Dropout Kaye West claims, “Racism is still alive they just be concealing it.” Those words are just as disturbingly true now as they were in 2004 . And no part of the fabric of American life has gone untouched by this societal ill, including our churches. Sadly, at times this is perhaps where it has been exhibited most clearly.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is renowned for having declared, “At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.” I do not want to be dismissive of the vast improvements and healing of racial divides that have taken place since Dr. King’s day; but neither do I want to pretend that we do not have a long way to go. The majority of American churches are, for the most part, still homogenous entities. We like to think that this is perfectly fine, even natural. We tell ourselves it is more about style and worship preferences than the vestiges of our racist history.
Among the many reasons I am proud to be a part of the Reformed Church in America is our community’s recent adoption of the Belhar Confession. Obviously the Belhar is a great source to turn to when facing the problem of racism and racial segregation in our denomination and our communities at large. As the confession states, “unity is both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ; that through the working of God’s Spirit it is a binding force, yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought: one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain.” The honest nature of the document does not permit us to be dishonest with ourselves about our tendency to isolate ourselves from others different from us nor does it ignore the empowerment of the Spirit and the effort on our part that is needed to cross racial divides. But ultimately the reason I so Appreciate the Belhar Confession is that it puts us in conversation not just with abstract ideas but with scripture and tradition as well as with the real life situation of people – in this case the people in the church of South Africa during apartheid – their failures as well as their efforts towards reconciliation, unity and forgiveness.
James Craig Anderson Rest In Presence.
I remember sitting in my apartment by myself in front of the tv in shock and awe. ABC News. I felt bonded to Peter Jennings that day. For years to come ABC News was the only News I would watch. I took Jennings death in 2005 especially hard.
It was my first time ever living on my own I had just moved in. I remember calling my mother and crying together. I remember going to work that day at Meijer and people coming through my check-out lane stock piling can goods & water and giving false reports of car bombs going off in Chicago.
I remember hatred swelling up in my heart and the desire for revenge against some unknown enemy. And I remember in the coming days, months and years having my heart softened and changed. Slowly my longing transformed into a desire for the shalom that we proclaim will come. A prayer that resembled Psalm 137 slowly turned into a prayer that resembled the prayer that Jesus taught:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
How long oh Lord? Come Lord Jesus!