This post is about me.
It is not about you.
It is not about other people,
It is not about what I think you should do.
It is about me.
Our church is walking through Jesus' famous "Sermon on the Mount" this summer.
It can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7.
Gandhi loved the Sermon on the Mount.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, too.
As did Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sense a theme?
Here is what stood out to me yesterday from this sermon in light of what is going on in our nation:
Jesus is interpreting the Mosaic law,
bringing new light to God's way of life,
and he starts by saying, "You have heard it said 'You shall not murder ...'
but I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister you will be liable to judgment ..."
He continues in this vein, basically demonstrating that we are all guilty of hiding anger in our heart
toward our brothers and sisters,
thus making ourselves "liable to the hell of fire."
That's pretty daunting, isn't it?
But then he says this:
"So when you are offering your gift at the altar,
if you remember that your brother or sister HAS SOMETHING AGAINST YOU,
leave your gift there before the altar
first BE RECONCILED to your brother or sister,
and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
Again, remember this post is about and for me.
I have sensed through this teaching of Jesus
God saying to me:
"Alice, I want you to remember that your African-American brothers and sisters might have something against you right now.
I want you to go.
Go to them and see.
ASK THEM WHAT THEY MIGHT HAVE AGAINST YOU.
Listen to them.
Listen to their pain, their anger, their frustration, their stifled rage, their fear.
Listen to what they have against you.
Even if it hurts,
or shames you.
Leave your gift on the altar and GO.
And, then ask them how you might be reconciled to them.
Ask them what you need to say.
Ask them what you need to do.
Ask them how you can keep GOING, keep LISTENING, keep LEARNING, and keep RECONCILING.
And then do it.
I don't want you to write a post that is about anyone or anything other than your very own self.
I have things I want you to do; things you must do.
And none of them involve telling other people what you think they should do in order to fix these problems.
All I want you to do right now is do what I am telling you to do.
Stop bringing me gifts at my altar.
Remember that your brother and sister have something against you.
Go to them. Don't expect or demand they come to you.
You ... Go to them.
And do what you need to do to be reconciled.
Until you do that,
leave your gift.
Just leave it.
So, that is what I am doing.
I am remembering ...
that I live in a world of power and privilege and peace,
while all around me my brothers and sisters of color
live in a very different world.
And it is literally killing them.
This has everything to do with me; it is no longer something I can whistle in the dark about and pretend that it does not.
This is a problem I must deal with.
It is time.
I must be the one who goes.
So I am going.
Here's how I am going:
I went to a prayer meeting this morning and confessed my sin.
I am marching this afternoon in solidarity with my brothers and sisters of color.
Tomorrow I am attending Harvest Vineyard church and sitting under the teaching of a black preacher.
I am more committed than ever to walking with an amazingly brilliant young woman of color as she starts college in the fall. She has all the gifts she needs to succeed. But I am called to lend her my support when she asks. I will do just that.
I am reaching out to several young black men I am friends with to see how I can be reconciled to them, and how I can help them as they continue their hard-fought journey from high school to college.
I am committed to reading theologians of color, rather than just white theologians.
I am going to start attending a bible study on biblical justice at Harvest Vineyard Church.
I am committing again to be a part of Youth Art Team's redemptive, reconciling work through art.
I am going to initiate correspondence with two young African American men who have landed in the criminal justice system. I want them to know I am praying for and with them and that I believe in them.
These are the things God is calling me to do.
I can no longer sit on the sidelines.
I will no longer just engage in "casual conversation" about how frightening and distressing and awful this all is, all while doing nothing.
I will no longer be scared.
I am called to leave my gift at the altar and go.
So I am going.
I am distressed.
I am hopeful.
I am called to go.