Wednesday, February 10
Genesis 9:20-25 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father…When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers”.
“Turning the Curse of Ham Into a Blessing” image by Melinda Beck
A newly appointed GNJ pastor’s 16-year-old returned from Sunday school in early October visibly upset. “My new Sunday school teacher said, ‘blacks are descended from Ham and are cursed by God’.” When the pastor approached the leadership they were told, “she’s been teaching for more than 50 years, she’s a treasure”. It fell on the newly appointed pastor to remove this teacher who had served under many pastors over those 50 years.
In Stoney the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes: “On October 1, 1866, Benjamin Franklin Perry, the provisional governor of South Carolina, wrote about freed people in the Charleston Daily Courier: ‘The African, has been in all ages, a savage or a slave. God created him inferior to the white man in form, color, and intellect, and no legislation or culture can make him his equal…His color is black; his head covered with wool instead of hair, his form and features will not compete with the Caucasian race, and it is in vain to think of elevating him to the dignity of the white man. God created differences between the two races, and nothing can make him equal.’ Less than a year later, on June 3, 1867, in the Columbia Phoenix, Perry’s fear was focused on the voting booth. ‘[I]t will be impossible to maintain a just, wise and permanent republican form of government where a majority of the voters are ignorant, stupid, demi-savage paupers.”
Action step: today, with brutal honesty, question not only current but historic assumptions and teachings about race in your church. Ask have I taken the time to investigate what was taught in Sunday School and preached from the pulpit in my church? Identify members that can tell this story. We cannot be antiracist until we understand how we got to where we are. Is your church not-racist or does implicit and explicit racism fester in its DNA? What do you need to do about it?
In our efforts to dismantle racism, we understand that we 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 the family are inferior and others superior.
Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories.
Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.
Help us to create a church and a nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed people of color where we live, as well as those around the world.
Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit.