Thursday, February 18
Jeremiah 29:4-9 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
St. George's United Methodist Church, Philadelphia. Black lay preachers Allen and Jones drew a large community of black worshipers to the congregation. Racial tensions flared, most notably in a seating policy segregating black members into a newly constructed upstairs gallery, without notification. The next Sunday in 1787, white ushers attempted to forcibly drag a black member of the church, Absolem Jones, to a different pew. This ultimately resulted in the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination.
Christians are called to be prophetic voices to the dominant culture yet too often Christians operate within the framework of American exceptionalism or succumb to the idea that America a Christian nation. Left unchecked Christian exceptionalism becomes Christian nationalism. In Bring the War Home: the White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, historian Dr. Kathleen Belew writes: “Founded by Robert Millar in 1973, Elohim City – “City of God,” in Hebrew – consisted of some seventy-five white separatists living on a 400-acre wooded compound, mostly in trailers parked on cement slabs. Residents trained with homemade napalm, Claymore mines, grenades, assault rifles, AR-15s, and Ruger Mini-14s…Millar preached Christian Identity and separatism, and said that the wealth of the white race proved that they were God’s chosen people.”
Action step: today, with brutal honesty ask yourself is your sanctuary a Christian sanctuary or an American Christian sanctuary? Is your sanctuary a Christian sanctuary or a white Christian sanctuary? What is the history of your building? What objects and images fill its spaces? How can you as a leader not hide these but shine light on them as objects of investigation and discussion?
In the effort to dismantle racism, I understand that I struggle not merely against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities – those institutions and systems that keep racism alive by perpetuating the lie that some members of our family are inferior and others superior.
Create in me a new mind and heart that will enable me to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.
Give me the grace and strength to rid myself of racial stereotypes that oppress some in my family while providing entitlements to others.
Help me to create a nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed people of color where we live, as well as those around the world.
Help me to heal your family making me one with you and empowered by your Holy Spirit.
Adapted by Debra Mooney, PhD from Pax Christi, https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/prayers-for-racial-justice-and-reconciliation