Two weeks ago, the lessons of the day addressed the subject of worry and anxiety. While there is still anxiousness about the coronavirus pandemic, concerns about Phase Two and moving toward Phase Three, this week brought an even deeper and challenging issue that has come front and center. Once again, we have been confronted with the reality of racism with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. People across our country have had strong reactions and protests that have often erupted in violence and looting.
When faced with such deep problems with far-reaching circumstances, we have a tendency to react rather than respond. Those reactions often take the form of wanting to find fault or blame others. We need to resist the knee-jerk impulse to react. We need to embrace the call to respond with a healthy response that is more than just blaming or decrying violent behavior as sinful or evil; it means beginning to move toward true change.
Real change begins with real repentance, and repentance is so much more than simple regret. Repentance involves a commitment to making a change. True repentance begins with a simple question – how have I contributed to this situation? The possible answers are numerous, ranging from an active and vocal reaction to passive tolerance of something intolerable. Your answer to this question requires real soul searching and prayerful consideration of how our Lord Jesus’ Great Commandment – love one another – has or hasn’t been active in your life. If your response is, “I have no responsibility for this situation,” then you’re fooling yourself. All of us have contributed to racism in one way or another; and it’s time for all of us to repent and make some changes.
As God’s people, it is our calling to live our lives with empathy and care for one another, and for someone of Germanic descent like me, that means seeking to grow in my sense of empathy for those who are hurt by racism. It means seeking and growing in relationships with those who suffer. It means listening – really listening to their fears, their concerns, and their anger without dismissing it. It means seeking a more honest view of our nation’s history and how we have allowed all of this to take place. It means praying that God would change our hearts and minds so that we can be better instruments of blessing to others and to society as a whole. It means being sensitive to opportunities to speak to the situation with the mind of Christ.
“A new commandment I give to you,” said our Lord, “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” As followers of Jesus, it is important to commit to his command and the reality of racism, to support those who suffer because of it, and to seek to make it a thing of the past.
St Frances of Assisi said it well: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”