Fear or Hope

Whenever the news is discouraging, as in another school shooting or another black man is killed, my spirit shudders and wants to shut out what I see, what I read. 

Small Kindnesses and Building Relationships

Yet I find so much hope in our world. Whether it's the small things I do through kindnesses throughout the day or serving a biracial church that is building relationships of trust and compassion or whether it's the actions of other people: the young people speaking out against school shootings or black people and allies speaking out against the killing of innocent black men.

flower in concrete.jpg

I am fortunate to have thoughtful colleagues, pastors, in real life and on facebook, who give voice to their thoughts, who ground their thoughts in their theology, in their faith in God. 

Faith Traditions

Each faith tradition seeks goodness of the whole. If it does not, it is a cult.

Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs move toward light, toward goodness along the path that each person has been given. Compassion is the heart, the center of many if not all of these traditions.

Where hatred exists, there is fear. Fear of that which lies beyond our understanding. Or fear of being unlovable. Or fear that God is, indeed, a God who seeks justice. 

Tucking God in a box

I speak from the Christian tradition, as a woman who has served as pastor. Too many times, we attempt to box God up, domesticate Jesus, pin the Eternal Spirit down. When it's convenient, we take God out of the box. Evil, via the urge to control, the urge to dominate, killed Jesus.   

But you know the story from the Bible, right? God will not remain in our human-made boxes. God is like that flower that breaks through the concrete. Jesus laughed and broke free of the concrete. 

  • God is the earth that shifts and shakes beneath us.
  • God is the sun that shines upon us.
  • God is the wind that breathes upon us.
  • God is the rain that nurtures our dryness, our hollowness. 

We can argue with and fight against this unrestrained God all we want but God brings beauty forth from suffering, from violence.

God does not cause the violence or the suffering but God is with us in the form of Shekinah, She who dwells among us, the radiance who flashes forth in our wilderness times. 

An Active Faith

 What does an active faith look like today?

  • Some of us will read, offer prayer, teach/preach, raise awareness, inspire hope for the incoming of God's dream for our world.  
  • Some of us will support the women and youth, the men and children who march for a world that will be respectful of all people.
  • Some of us will organize in our own towns, cities, villages to bring about awareness and justice for people who struggle against racial and/or economic injustice.
  • Some of us will donate money to organizations that support our dream for a better world. 
  • Some of us will volunteer or apply for a paying job or create a consulting job for agencies that will bring about a more just world that shows compassion regardless of our gender, our skin color, our physical, emotional, or cognitive abilities.  

There is much work to be done. There is much dismantling that is happening. There is much building to do. 

Finding a faith community, where trust, education, encouragement, awareness, can be so helpful as we go about the work God has called us to do.  

Diversity and Violence

I am a white woman. And it was a difficult week to preach in a bi-racial faith community. Gun violence is all around us. Taking black men's lives. Taking police officers' lives. When will it end?

Only when we say enough. 

One of my African American clergy colleagues, a young man who has no family of his own but is very close to his sister and her family, shared the story of his two young nephews, who live near a store they can walk to and buy things. Last week they went to that store and an adult told them, he hates black people. It scared them. They are...5 and 9-years-old...I think?

Have we had enough? 

Will we stand up for a child against a bully, particularly an adult bully? Will we reassure that child that they are loved, innocent, and worthy of our protection--regardless of their skin color?

If we are in a public space and we see an adult person of color being bullied, namecalled, yelled at by a white person--will we allow that harrassment to continue and do nothing?

And shooting guns? That is not the answer.

If we do nothing, we allow evil and violence to rise up victorious, scattering all of us, scattering all of our dreams for a better world for the next generation.

It is time. 

If we see a child or an adult person of color being abused in public space, it is time for us to stop standing by silently. It is time to go over to the person being bullied, to talk with them (don't focus on the bully, focus on the victim), to reassure them that they are not alone, that we are here, that we care, we care about them, regardless of their skin color or the way they dress. We care about our world, the culture and the society that we are crafting and creating together. 

All it takes is small intentional acts of kindness.