Sunday, February 7
John 8:31b – “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Image Source: James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, By Birchett, Colleen; Philadelphia Tribune
In 1969, a year after merger, James Cone, writing in Black Theology & Black Power, laid down an ominous challenge writing: “To carve out a Black Theology based on black oppression will of necessity mean the creation of new values independent of and alien to the values of white society. The values must be independent because they must arise from the needs of black people. They will be alien because white American “Christian” values are based on racism.”
We United Methodists have both succeeded and failed in creating “new values independent of an alien to the values of white society” and in recognizing that American Christianity is truly based “on racism”. Answering God’s call the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference has resolved to dismantle institutional racism within our churches and our polity but are we up to the task?
Action step: today, with brutal honesty answer these two simple questions. “Am I willing to take risks in order to lead my church in adopting and a racist policy.” “Am I willing to search my heart and soul for my own racism?” Prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to lead you through a time of soul-searching and to reveal those in your congregation ready to journey with you.
Prayer: A Prayer on Privilege
Merciful God, I claim Your promise to be with us when two or three are gathered. You know that each of us has a unique heart and history and so I can only speak from what I have seen and known and become as one who enjoys the privilege of being born white in the United States.
As I try to understand the ways in which I benefit from that history, or deprive others of life and happiness and all the things I take for granted, I pray that You will open my heart, my mind, my imagination, and my eyes to see this country as it is and not as I want it to be or think that it is.
Even as I utter words with the best of intentions about “the poor,” “those who are dispossessed,” “those who are disrespected,” “those who are subtly or overtly treated as less than,” those who fall in that thoughtless, painful category of “you people”, I feel that I am distancing myself from these “others,” and contributing further to the fissures that divide all of us from each other and You.
Help me, O God, to acknowledge honestly the ways in which white privilege in America is perpetuated, the ways in which racism thrives systemically, and the ways in which our “Common Prayer” furthers these divides.
Dear God, I trust your Spirit to guide us in our common life and enlighten us to the injustices of white privilege in this country. Make our common prayers occasions for your Spirit to break into our hearts and lives, that we may ” nally see our world with a glimpse of your love and light.
I pray that we may all be healed of our hurts and divisions, so that we may become agents of the reconciliation and peace that you desire for this world. This is my prayer. Amen.
Rainey G. Dankel, printed in the The Anti-Racism Prayer Book compiled by The Anti-Racism Team of Trinity Church Boston in 2014