February 2015

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota where everyone looked like me and the major difference among friends and neighbors was mostly being Catholic or Lutheran. I went to a small college where the percentage of students of color was tiny. Somehow, by God’s grace, I have ended up in a life where my family, my friends and my neighborhood are woven from the diversity of the world. So, for many years I have lived a life where I stand with my feet planted in two worlds—remembering both who I was and where I came from and honoring the wider world that has become part of me as well. It is a place of privilege and I know it.

Over the years, I have born witness to many of the difficulties and hardships related to law enforcement that happen to my family members and friends because they are black. I still remember the confusion of my youngest son, the first time a security guard followed him around the Target toy aisles. I have lost track of the number of times family members and friends have had traffic stops for things which I myself have never been pulled over for even once. I will never forget the two nights my beloved godson spent in jail because the police officer would not listen to him or examine his registration and vin number and believe that someone had replaced his license plate with that of a stolen vehicle. I am utterly convinced if it had been me, in my minvan, instead of him in his minvan, an explanation and some research would have averted being booked and held in jail. My first world taught a belief that stuff happens to people because they do something to attract censure or disapproval—the belief that bad things happen to those who deserve it. But God’s grace and some maturity have shown me that the world really doesn’t operate that way—even though it can comfort us to believe that it does.

I have born witness to the injustices and suffering that have been happening across our country that sprout from seeds of bias and racism and I have grieved for the pain that it brings not only to the families and friends of those directly involved, but to those I love as it presses against their pain from countless small and larger indignities and injustice they have born across their lives. For me, a very real piece of the sadness is that it has also caused a questioning of faith and wavering of trust in a God who knows and loves them, for some of God’s precious children.

If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

I am praying that the church will not be silent, nor those who love God ignorant of the pain of our brothers and sisters.   One Sunday Chris taught “Why Black Lives Matter.” Our church becomes a place to dialogue and question and share and work out these hard things together. I have brought these concerns to every meeting of believers I have been part of lately—

I know the privilege I have with feet planted in worlds that don’t always meet and I seek God’s grace to use it every opportunity that presents itself. I pray that all God’s people will take up Jesus’ call to mercy and justice in unique and personal ways so that the kingdom of heaven can come where it is needed.

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