Saturday, October 25, 2014

seeing and hearing systemic racism

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I share this post because it is difficult, but critical,  for a person like me to see racism at a systemic level.

Usually, we (white, middle/upper middle class folk) tend to only be able to think about racism individualistically, as a one-on-one prejudice, and we're not able to see very far beneath the surface.

In many shootings of black men over the past few years, I've heard people who've grown up like me justify the shootings by saying things like, "Well, the victim was a thug." "He deserved it because he was committing a crime."  We don't see systemic patterns in play.

In my opinion, the video above is very strong at helping us see and hear systemic racism at work. None of the common attempted justifications can be used to shift the focus away from recognizing systemic evil.

Why did the officer react with such fear and panic when a black man reached into his vehicle?  That's a sign of the system.

Why did the black man, after being shot for no reason, apologize, raise his hands, speak politely with the officer in an attempt to save his own life?  That's a sign of the system.

Why do situations like this happen, repeatedly, across our nation?  That's the system.

Notice the pain felt by Levar Jones as he puts his hands over his face during the interview and shares that he does not want to see the video of the shooting.  This deep pain is felt throughout our African-American community.  May this pain reach all of our hearts and move us to create a new way forward.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

on presence

Alice spoke so beautifully about incarnational ministry, about seeing people, about the value of relationships.  In the midst of her message, there's a powerful five minute video of a friendship that has bloomed between a small group at church and a resident of Walnut Neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

taste and travel

We had a great morning in the neighborhood on Saturday.  Guests moved from Harvest Vineyard to three different homes in the neighborhood to hear about God's work with our Haitian partners, our Food for the Hungry partner in Mozambique, and our relationship right in the Walnut Neighborhood.   

Groups formed and traveled to three different homes to hear about how God works through Christ-centered, wholistic, relational development.

Each home offered a cuisine consistent to the culture.  Judy Marshall cooked up some amazing collard greens with smoked turkey.  

The group ended their travel with a potluck at Harvest featuring foods that everyone brought from their own ethnic heritage.  It's good to remember that each of us came from somewhere with ancestors that likely immigrated from another country to settle here in America.  

We are so grateful for our partners!  
Front left to right:  JeanJean and Kristie Mompremier (UCI in Haiti), Halkeno Tura (Food for the Hungry, Mozambique, and Judy Marshall (Harvest Vineyard in Waterloo)
Back left to right:  Kris Hoskinson, Laura Hoy (Orchard Hill Church)  

Friday, October 3, 2014

ccda offers the red pill

In the movie, "The Matrix", Morpheus offers Neo the choice between two pills:

"You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

After reflecting more on the CCDA conference, I feel as if Christian Community Development Association offers people like me the red pill.  

The conference "awakens" me to some deep realities that had not been much a part of my conscious thought for a great deal of my life; a new lens on the powers and principalities at play in our world, a closer look at the operating system of the world.  

With a closer look at the ways of our world, this "red pill" also opens my eyes to the alternate reality and invitation into the Kingdom of God like nothing else.  It invites me to the cross where I die to what I previously thought was life, and it compels me to join the Resistance, the family of Jesus followers, who manifest freedom and real life found in Him via the love found at the cross and the power found in His resurrection.  

I feel braver coming away from this year's CCDA conference; more willing to die to myself and this world in order to be an ambassador of the Kingdom.  This invitation is so much bigger and more compelling than we tend to make the Christian life in our comfortable places.  It doesn't dismiss my need to better learn to love the people right around family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors.  Nor does it dismiss my need to continue on the journey of personal holiness and character development.  But it does invite me into something much larger than myself.  A Kingdom that is advancing against the darkness.  A Kingdom found in the reconciling community of faith-filled followers of Jesus who change the world through living out the Kingdom values of love and justice in the fight against the darkness.  Sign me up.

"You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

How about you?  Blue pill or Red pill?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

ccda day three: engaging CCDA in a LGBTQ conversation

I joined eighteen people for a two and a half hour conversation today about the intersection of Jesus's Church and homosexuality.  Guidelines and boundaries were set for the dialogue, and we had a tremendous facilitator who interjected gracefully, but also firmly, if anyone dominated the conversation or said something disrespectful.

As we introduced ourselves, we could see that people were bringing strong emotions and convictions, painful experiences, questions, and fragile relationships into the conversation.  There were people with conservative views and liberal views, others who were gay, some who had family members and good friends who were gay, one whose roommate had come out as gay and then killed herself not long after.   

Two takeaways for me from this experience:

- It was probably the most respectful listening community I had ever been a part of on such a divisive issue.  No matter one's beliefs and convictions, there were a lot of voices really being heard well around that table.  I thought about how these kind of dialogues are needed in our communities over the tough issues.  It's a sad day when social media wins out over people giving the gift and respect of listening well to one another in the company of one another.  Even when there is a lot of internal wrestling and angst going on, we need to turn toward the angst to pray, read, ask questions, learn, and listen.  This diverse community of believers around the table who offered a breadth of experiences and sharing with one another offered a picture of some hope to me.

-The group agreed that the differing views in the Church were not likely going to come under some unified voice in the future.  With that said, we did begin to ask one another, "How can we find common ground?"  "How can we move toward love and reconciliation in the midst of disagreement?"  "How can we hold Jesus as center, love one another, and show genuine care for the LGBTQ community despite other differences in regard to this issue?"  

I left the conversation both very pensive and very grateful for the opportunity to sit with this group of folks.  Often in situations of listening and reflecting in the hard places, God does a great deal of growing in me.  I welcome His Spirit's work in my life.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

ccda day two debrief

We were able to gather our whole group last night for a brief time of sharing about our experience at the conference so far.  Everyone has much to bring to the conversation, and everyone is taking much in from others as we listen well to such a great spectrum of voices here in Raleigh!  

ccda day two: on progress toward reconciliation

Curtiss De Young spoke at last night's plenary session.  De Young spoke about the first century church when the dominant Roman Christians entered the homes of the Jewish Christians.  They joined the faith community and became marginalized.  People lost family and friends.  They left power and privilege at the door.  The ethnic minority, the oppressed folks were the church leaders. The dominant culture gave up status and joined the community.

De Young shared his narrative of growing up "very white in a very white context" and talked about the turning point in his life when he began to attend and later to preach at an all black church in Harlem in the 80's.   He challenged those who were white in the room to learn from people in struggle.  To be trained.  To come under the submission and leadership of someone of color.  To go and stand with those who are not in privilege and power.

"If we are going to do the work of reconciliation, we need to experience mentorship from the marginalized."

Marshall Hatch also spoke last night.  He talked about why race still matters in America.

"At the heart of the Gospel is Christ the King and the interest of poor is central.  And you can't talk about poverty without talking about race in America."

He urged us to live these three principles..

1.  Put the Kingdom of God first.

2.  Repent from racism with fruit that demonstrates repentance.  "Repentance is never a word you say, it's a life to be demonstrated."

3.  We must pair evangelism and activism together.