Few people of color expect those of us who are not to ever understand. They know that their world seldom crosses into ours. To be white in a majority culture means never having to face the unspoken recognition that in spite of progress in some areas of racial concern, racism resides at or just below the surface all the time.
With the new trauma of yet another violent death facing the nation, the sense of powerless frustration…the boiling caldrons of anger…the inexplicable reactions…all point to a deeper pain than cannot be translated across racial lines. For that, I am grieved. So many of my strongest friendships cross those lines. So many of the relationships that enrich my life are limited because the world I live in and the world my friends of color live in are just not the same. I never think of being unjustly profiled. Few people of color ever spend a day without thinking about it.
I grew up and have spent most of my life in the South, surrounded by and loving the racial diversity here. Yet I have lived through riots in the late sixties and wept as friends lost family members in the streets. But I was never really afraid of what could happen because of the color of my skin. Tonight I read with profound sadness the thoughts of a good friend on what it means to be black in America, the fears of what still can happen and the feeling of impotence to do anything to guarantee that things will be different for your own kids. Many whites will respond to the tensions by focusing on the criminal acts of a few trouble-makers, but they will excuse themselves from the troubling considerations of what other factors are at work to generate such powerful passions of racial tension.
Please read this blog post by Thabiti Anyabwile. After many years serving as a pastor outside the United States, he has come back to plant a new church. Hear what he says and try to understand an experience of life in our nation that you cannot fully grasp unless you are from a minority group. And after you read it, I do hope you will have learned how to pray in a more informed manner and see the breadth of the racial problem with fresh eyes. To Thabiti, I say thanks again for your way of capturing heart and mind as you open eyes to see how great our need is for the healing grace and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Come, Lord Jesus!
After several weeks of watch video of others, I finally got to participate! I challenged our own pastors at Providence to join me after our congregational worship and prayer time last night. While the kids and their parents enjoyed a little ice cream out in the courtyard, we got our buckets ready and joined the millions who have already gotten drenched for a great cause–research for ALS treatment. Sure there are many other causes, but this one is here…it is now…it has impacted our church…and we could do something! So why not?
Cathy and I wanted to join in personally so not only did I get the ice bucket treat, but we will make a donation to ALSA.org. But beyond that, we want to extend the effort and also make a donation to Alzheimer’s research, the horrible disease that took her Mom’s life a couple of years ago.
So, enjoy the silly video, and look beyond it. Someone had a simple idea and it struck a nerve and generated millions of dollars for a worthy cause! What a delight to be able to give and enjoy it so much!! Thanks to the folks at Providence who cheered us on!
Sometimes in the middle of global upheaval, the news gets so overwhelming that we compartmentalize our emotions from our thoughts. It is easier to deal with the pain if we disconnect it from actual people. We know about it, but if we do not know the people we can distance ourselves from their circumstances and inoculate ourselves from their hurts.
That is why pictures are so powerful. Every day when we see the faces of those in Syria and Iraq who are running for their lives, sorrow grips us. Whenever we see victims of ebola lying helplessly in huts in small villages, we cannot escape the images of real people staring blankly back at us. As real families hit with enemy fire appear in photographs from Gaza or Israel, our hearts immediately engage. Soldiers and civilians in Ukraine who have been hurt or killed are just statistics to us until we see their faces. Images are indeed powerful.
The biblical mandate to take the light and love of Jesus Christ to the nations remains cerebral and theoretical until we see those faces of men, women and children who live apart from Him. That is why when I travel, I try to take pictures of people as often as I can. Some are willing subjects, others caught from a distance with a zoom lens. But it is people in need who stir the heart. The commission of Christ should be enough. The love for His glory should compel us. The desire for His kingdom to grow and be populated with as many as possible before He comes again should sustain our mission.
But those faces…each one an individual created in the image of God. Let the Spirit keep us fresh in our mission and for missions because He commanded us to go, because we are passionate about making Him known, and because we pray for the expansion of His kingdom. But let us never lose sight of those images of people who need hope, the hope that only Jesus Christ can give!
For a couple of days in July, Cathy and I toured the Northern Neck of Virginia. Of the many historic sites and birthplaces of famous colonial Americans, we thoroughly enjoyed Stratford Hall, the home of the influential Lee family. The well-preserved home is best known for being the dwelling place of the only family to have two brothers sign the Declaration of Independence (Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee). The home is also notable as the birthplace in 1807 of Robert E. Lee.
For more pictures of the trip to Northern Neck, click here:
In a broken world, there is such a longing for hope. In spite of the absence of any evidence, people continue to declare that they want to have confidence that life will get better.
However, apart from surrendering to the Creator and Giver of life, there is no such hope! The last sermon in the series from the Prophets offers the only hope there is–that the Messiah has come to forgive the sin which separates us from God; and that the Messiah will come again to assume His rightful place on the eternal throne where He will put everything right and restore His perfect kingdom.
As an example of the kind of hope people want to claim, here is a video of an old song covered in a more recent arrangement. Back in 1970, the Five Stairsteps recorded a song, “Ooh Child,” and promised that some day a better world was coming. Over the years, many other artists sang and recorded the same song written by Stan Vincent. Here is a fuzzy video of Destiny’s Child and Cyndi Lauper doing the song in concert just a couple of years ago.
The sad thing is that people still think that a better day will come apart from Christ! Until He comes, it will only get worse in a fallen world that continues to fall apart, among a fallen people who persist in making things worse! Yet because Jesus has come, there is abundant life possible now and eternal life promised when He comes again–just as the prophets foretold!
So, yes, the message of the song is true, just not the way the writer and artists who recorded think. Only through Jesus Christ are things going to get brighter, better and beyond imagination!