This reflection on race, faith and justice was written by the 2015 team leaders of the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE), a pre-event of the ELCA Youth Gathering that empowers young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as a part of God’s story, in order to move toward healing and wholeness as transformational leaders in the church and in the world.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
As we write this, our hearts are breaking. The events of the last few months, the extreme responses from some and lack of responses from many have left us questioning. For such a time as this, we are uncertain about the role of the church and our own roles as women of color within the church. When some people are left thinking that our social patterns of hate and fear are the only way and others know of more life-giving ways but are paralyzed from realizing them, how do we speak hope to all? How do we speak out against injustice? How do we address the issue of racism? How do we use our prophetic witness of the gospel to not just speak out but live out our commitment to transnational justice in this world? Click here to read more.
“Any act of violence is a negation of life and humanity.” – Rev. Ken Wheeler
I live in the city of Chicago. Anyone who pays even the slightest attention to news headlines knows that Chicago has a problem with violence. A Google search on gun violence in the city will return a link to Huffington Post that lists a variety of stories on violence in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune also has a page dedicated to Chicago crime statistics and interactive maps to help residents figure out what crimes happen in various communities. Now that the weather is warmer and young people will be out of school for the summer, many of us lament the fact that there will be an increase in violence. It’s a fact – warmer weather = more death in Chicago.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think pain is something that is prescribed in this life. As a person of Christian faith, I don’t believe that God desires us to go through painful situations, nor do I believe that God causes pain in our lives. I believe that pain is an inevitable part of living because we are human, we are broken and we care.
That being said, it is been my experience that times of growth are painful. Continue reading →
My devotional reflection was on forgiveness this morning. I am reading Radical Grace, a collection of daily meditations by Franciscan contemplative guru Father Richard Rohr. I appreciate his take on so many things and this particular book has been an often used part of my devotional collection. The meditations are divided by church season and for the week after Easter, Rohr writes prayers to be recited by the reader. One such prayer is on forgiveness and the opening line resonates deeply with me:
Lamb of God we ask that we might be defense free people, that we might be able to live a truly disarmed life, that we might be able to be secure enough in your love, Jesus, to be insecure in this world, to let go, Lord.
The overarching theme of this prayer is about learning to forgive ourselves, but I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go and forgiving others recently. And I’m beginning to realize that forgiveness is all about vulnerability. Continue reading →
“In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, ‘We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.’”
This reversal shows what happens when organizations hear from their conservative base and realize that their decisions come with a cost. I am tired of narrow-minded, life-taking theology winning; of these views having louder voices and monetary might; of these views promoting a divisive faith that gives Christianity a bad name. This reversal is not only disappointing but also perpetuates a common narrative that Christians are unwilling to learn, listen and lead in prophetic ways.
I write this through a watery gaze that is shedding tears for the girl I once was…
I recently watched a video from a family member’s birthday party circa 1983. I must have been 2 years old and the party was held at McDonald’s when McDonald’s was THE place to hold birthday parties. The video was recorded on a VHS and it was slightly fuzzy. It was quite entertaining to see the fashion – especially my mother’s blue tinted, big framed glasses – and hear the music of the 80’s. As I watched, I looked for myself in the chaos of babies, children, teens, parents, characters, balloons…you get the picture. When I finally spotted myself, I was surprised by what I saw. I was sitting alone at a table and I had a look of fear on my face. My hands were clenching the seat beneath me and my frame was cloaked with anxiety. No one was talking to me. My mother wasn’t around. And I looked utterly alone. That video image spoke volumes to me.
Of course, being the good therapeutic patient that I am, I brought this up during my next therapy session. And of course, being the cryer that I am, the floodgates opened. My therapist attentively listened to my sharing and when I was done, she asked that question that I hate being asked, “Rozella, what are the tears about?”
I sniffled my way through my response and finally articulated what I was feeling. “I’m crying for the girl I was; for the image reflected back to me that embodied how I felt about myself. The image that showed me how afraid and nervous I was. The image that reiterates my greatest fear to this day – the fear of being utterly alone.” Continue reading →
It’s become clear to me that a key aspect of my call is walk alongside women in particular as they discern what God is calling them to do, who God has created them to be and how to grow in love, compassion and grace of themselves.
My sister friends…
I can’t help but think of the statement that those things we focus the most on, speak the most about, tend to be the things we struggle with the most. That is definitely true for me, dear shadow lovers. I talk about discernment and call because those are things that I have struggled greatly with over my life. I talk about compassion, self-love and grace because I am horrible at practicing these ways of being with myself and most days I don’t believe that I am worthy of receiving them. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a work in progress, paying attention to and working on my issues. But I spend so much time walking with others because at the end of the day, I don’t wish my feelings darkness, despair and loneliness on anyone. If I could help one less person, especially one less woman, not question their worth, not struggle with their intrinsic beauty and not doubt the love that our Creator God has given freely to each and every person, then my work, my life will not have been in vain.