July 19, 2020
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Good morning Seekers, thank you for the opportunity to share a word with you this morning. I saw the gospel reading for the week, and thought how difficult it would be in part because Jesus tells us it’s meaning, and I wondered what else could say. But then some things started coming up in my spirit. So, I am going to share.
First, let me start with saying a prayer of thanksgiving. God thank you; you call me to rejoice in all circumstances and to give thanks. Yet, I can’t help but ask, how can I rejoice and give thanks knowing that a battle rages on; in the realm of eternity, and on earth, when there’s so much suffering, strife and division? But I recall that my rejoicing is wrapped up in your goodness, and in who you are, and even when I struggle to trust, I trust anyway. So, I give thanks for this wonderful body of believers that I see today. That we would leave this morning encouraged, empowered, and strengthen in Jesus, knowing in him we are all one. Amen
Even though we come from different parts of the world, region, have different skin colors, personalities, ideologies, beliefs, mannerism, intellectual capacity (you name it), I think we are all the same fundamentally; we’re people and I believe that we are all created by God. And so my spirit is troubled because I know that we’re experiencing the consequences of sin; centuries old thinking that is rooted in lies, established by a religious and political system created by men that categorized, divided, oppressed, killed; spiritually and physically the people of God, the precious creation of the Holy One. And sadly, we are all affected; past, present, and future until the coming of our Lord Jesus. I remember when the girls would argue, and when I walked into the room, they’d stopped arguing. I also recall a dream I had a few years ago, there was a storm and people were running around like crazy, then all of the sudden huge white horses with wings descended from the sky, lined up in two rows, and then a cloud came down, everyone stopped what they were doing, and then we all knew, it was Jesus coming back. So, yea, I believe that all these shenanigans, lawlessness, darkness, will cease immediately when Jesus comes back, but in the meantime my heart breaks, I feel anxious most days, I am stressed out, tired, and in the midst of it all, I am strengthened, and in the end I seem to always find my way in God. I guess that’s the sweet paradox of God, tired, yet strengthened.
So, what is this century old thinking anyway that has its root in a lie? I am someone that likes to get to the root of an issue, so I began reading this book called “The Myth of Racism” By Robert Wald Sussman. I wanted to at least try to understand some parts of our history, you know. As I began reading the book, I started connecting the dots and the lines became more distinct; The Church, The State, Origin of Birth, Religion, Wealth and Skin Color. What I discovered was that at the turn of the 15th century, the Spanish introduced a new form of racism, it first began with the persecution of Jews because they were becoming too powerful, converting to Catholicism, gaining wealth and prominence. As a result, the Old Christians were separated from New Christians (those with Jewish ancestry in the previous 5 generations), these new Christians, were not allowed to hold office or attend university, and a certificate of purity was issued to the older converts.
A few years or decades later, the Spanish inquisition was established to ensure that those with Jewish ancestry were kept out of mainstream, and the newest focus was on Christianized Muslim, Gypsies, and then they moved to Asia and America targeting indigenous folks. When the Spanish moved to Rome, the inquisition, focused on protestants, witchcraft (witches), homosexuals, and public intellectuals. Ultimately the inquisition separated and discriminated against other groups, and began to include ethnicity and race. It was about classes of people and categories – run by the dominating political, religion, ideology, which were all ruled by the state at that time. Over the years, scientific theories supported and justified categorizing humans, then it quickly spread to include people from other parts of the world, who were non-white Europeans. Ultimately, the belief was that white Europeans (the dominant group) were morally and intellectually superior and closer to God because of their origins and color of their skin.
So how does all of this connect with the “Parable of the Weeds”? The “Weed” “Bearded darnel is a noxious weed that mimics many of the characteristics of wheat—for a while. Before they mature, the two plants are almost identical, but as they grow, the differences become apparent in the fruit. Unfortunately, darnel is poisonous and in big enough doses will kill a person.”
To me the “Darnel” in our history was a belief system that white-Europeans (Christians/Catholics – this dominant group) was the superior race. White Supremacy; the root of racism, an age-old sin, a belief system, dating back as early as the 14th century is deeply rooted in the desire for power and control. The “Good Seed” is the love of God, unity in the gospel of Jesus manifested through people, seen in all creation. In a kind of way both grew together weaving its way through our laws, education, society, politics, you name it. For example, In the book “Stamped” the author highlights a speech from the Mississippi senator on April 12, 1860. Jefferson Davis responded to a bill funding Black education in DC “This Government was not founded by negros nor for negroes, but by White Men for White Men. This bill is based on the false notion of racial equality. The inequality of the white and black races was stamped from the beginning.” Jefferson is right. This nation was built to economically benefit White Male Christians/Catholics, but according the gospel of Jesus we are one in “Jesus” and Jesus is the head of the body of Christ; therefore, we are one; there is no person or gender who is superior to another.
I attended a webinar a few weeks ago from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a panelist, Liza Talusan, responded when asked to define Racism as a Social Construct.
She said” Racism is much deeper than just a “Social Construct”. “There are very little differences between us biologically; It, meaning race, was weaponized to create differences so that people could have superiority over another. In other words, race was created so that people can create categories of superiority for each other. There are social consequences of race” (FRUIT). Having done some research of my own, I can understand what she is saying. Injustices such George Floyd, Breonna Tayler, and more recently what happened in Portland, is an example of “Bad” fruit – social consequence of race.
I am more convinced in the separation of church and state, and we all should be aware and concerned about laws that seek to categorize, divide people by sex, and religious belief. I believe the harvest is upon us and I really believe that God is calling everyone to change and be the change, uproot the weeds in our lives, our bias, and to help others overcome too. I see God’s loving hand, changing people’s heart, calling them into the light and his truth, and the people are responding “yes”.
I’ve worked as an Administrator in private education for 17+ years and I’ve always been the only black female senior administrator in all my schools except for my current School. I always felt the pressure to excel partly because I was the only black female and I had to represent, and in part because that’s how I am. I feel that I have to work twice as hard, be twice as good and demonstrate how smart I am. My girls have always told me, I pass because I am not as dark and I have “good hair”. Colorism among black people, all over the world is real. It’s because for centuries we’ve been told black is ugly and stupid. and for anyone to think it can magically go away, it’s not true. The wounds are deep indeed, we all have bias. We all have weeds sprouting out trying to take over our spiritual and natural selves.
In my current role as an administrator, I oversee HR, Accounting, and Operations. Me and my colleagues are collaborating, seeking outside help from consultants on how to be an “Antiracist” school and employer. I may not be a judge, a lawyer, a police officer, a government official, but I can do something where I am, right now. I think we all can, and I think God is asking us to look within ourselves and around us. As in the days of old, I don’t believe we’re going to see A “Joshua”, I think we’re going to see many Joshua’s, mostly unknown, harvesting They will be in various positions, doing what they feel called to do to honor God, themselves and others. When I think of Seekers, there are many unknown faces (to the world) harvesting, doing a good work. God can do an amazing work through a few committed men and women who are willing to pay the price and stand for God’s justice exactly where they are.
Throughout my spiritual journey I have found strength, solace, and stability in Jesus. The Holy Spirit has given me wisdom to view the world through the eyes of God, sometimes I see and can discern the weeds in the garden of my heart and sometimes not. So, I wanted to share a few scriptures that speak to my heart and give me hope and comfort my soul.
Proverbs 3: -5-6, “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” This scripture keeps me grounded and calls me to reflect and give the benefit of the doubt of a situation. It keeps me humble, willing to accept that I can be wrong in my understanding or it calls me to wait and trust God until things are made clear to me. In other words, don’t jump to conclusions.
In Psalm 139:13-15 a psalm of David that I choose to adopt as my own. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows me, my soul. It doesn’t matter the color of my skin, where I am from or who others believe and think I am. To know that I am loved unconditionally gives me hope in a broken and divided world and gives me the courage I need to embrace all the parts of me, love and see others as God does.
Psalm 91 is the one I hold on to the most these days, a promise of protection. Just yesterday I was discussing this with a friend of mine. How in the midst of what we’re going through there is God’s promise of protection. To me it’s deeply personal. It’s hard to put down on paper, but I rely on these words and trust. It’s truly food for my soul. In the end as I reflect on all these matters, I see how they continually lead me to God and I see myself being made whole in him. Like I said earlier, I find my way in God, and back to God.
My final prayer is this that we do not grow weary and tired, and when we do, that we persevere and find strength in our time of need. We may not always understand, but we can trust that God is good, even when it doesn’t look like it or feel like it.