Lord, anger, frustration, and violence, unfortunately, has broken out in cities all across the USA over the killing of a black man in Minneapolis. God calls us to take care of the poor and the needy, to care for the stranger, to feed the hungry, to bring justice to all, yet this country has become more divided, divisive, and conflict-ridden. We pray for our nation today. We pray that cooler heads will prevail at this time. We pray for peace and for a time when all people will be treated equally, for we know that you love us all equally. Guide our words and thoughts as each of us, in our own way, seek to bring justice and peace to our country.
This was my prayer on my last day as pastor at Community Presbyterian Cathedral City. We are living in challenging times. Not only are we sheltering in place and feeling cut off from our routine, now we are dealing with a long-simmering issue that our society has not chosen to address.
There are many reasons why our society and each of us have not addressed the racial inequities in this country. You can name the reasons that have slowed your response and probably name the ones that have prevented those you know from moving forward.
The facts about the inequities are highlighted in the pandemic and are apparent to so many in the USA and the world today. A recent Los Angeles Times lead article started with this sentence: “Black, Latino, and Pacific Islander residents of Los Angeles Country are twice as likely to have died of COVID-19 than white residents. . .”
How to respond? What would Jesus do? Pardon me for using what is seen as a trite phrase. However trite the phrase, the question is real. As a Christian, aren’t we as Christ-follows to use Jesus as our example on how to live our lives? I hope you answer yes to that question!
As a Christ-follower, what can you personally do about the racial inequities in the USA? What action is Christ leading you to take? What can your church do about the situation? Those are questions only you can answer; only your church can answer.
The question I am struggling with: what is the Presbytery to do, how can the Presbytery support the local churches? At this month’s HPCC meeting (Healthy Pastors and Congregations Commission), one of the laypeople asked what the Presbytery can do to educate about the issue of racism and understanding white privilege. HPCC is exploring how to answer that question. I have recently presented the idea of developing anti-racism training for the Presbytery’s pastors and laypeople. In offering such training we would join several other presbyteries who already offer this training.
Right now, you and I are on a journey. Your church is on a journey. The Presbytery is on a journey. When on a journey, a direction is needed. Many of us are not sure of the direction we are heading or how to influence the direction of society. I believe that direction can only come from Jesus.
The early church was known in that day’s society as a group of people who loved each other as equals, shared their resources, took care of the poor – and those actions were based on a belief that Jesus’ life death and resurrection showed us that Jesus was God and that Jesus showed us how to live. I pray that today’s Christ-followers will act like those in the early church did toward all God’s children.