I was excited when we decided as a staff to talk about the issues around Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. I wasn’t sure how we were going to approach it, but I knew we had to talk about it. A few people warned me that it wasn’t an appropriate conversation for Church because it is ‘too political.’ This discussion is so much more than political. It is a conversation about how each of us sees ourselves and how other people see us. It gets to the heart of what it means to be created in the image of God. If God has created each one of us and the Holy Spirit of God dwells in all people, who are we to create barriers and walls between people who are so equally blessed?
When I am trying to promote upcoming events for Church, I sometimes run ads on Facebook. In the past they have not been very effective. Thousands of people see the ads, but I can see from the result almost no one clicks on them. So when I spent $250 of the Churches money promoting this theme for worship, I didn’t have great expectations.
I was surprised by what happened. Apparently, our simple logo, showing the expressions, “Black lives matter and All lives matter,” spoke to a lot of people. Immediately, we began to receive lots of comments. Right away someone said,
“This should not be in a church. If this was the church I attend I would leave. I am a Christian conservative. All lives Matter! Yes we have quite a few blacks. Thus sounds like a race issue. Come on this is 2016. People this is not the the 60s.”
Another person added, “It’s about Blacks always wanting to appear the victim- when in reality, they are the problem.” My initial response was to delete anything I didn’t like. But Phillip patiently responded to this comment and others, encouraging people to have an open mind and a compassionate heart.
Maybe my favorite response came from a woman in the Twin Cities,
“How about do you have any black people in your church or discussing this issue? No? Then fail and point missed. Edina? Seriously.”
I assured her that three of our five presenters were people of color, but she still saw it as tokenism. She posted:
“Racially diverse dialogue in the sermon? Shadow throwing. Do you have black members in your church? Do you march for equality? Social justice? You have a lot of action and home work to do. You can’t just discuss with big words and drink coffee and cookies, oh my goodness. BE Real. Go to the north side and attend a church there and have a racially diverse dialogue. Looking down your white Edina noses will not get the job done.”
The more comments we received about race the more important I realized it was to talk about. Even among the staff we were far from one harmonious position.
One person emailed me to say we should stick to preaching about the ‘love of God.’ It is hard to argue with that. It is just that I see God’s love as a powerful force which transforms us. It seeks out our sinfulness and condemns it, and in its place it creates a new person.
The act of being recreated is never simple or comfortable. It pushes us into to think and act differently. It constantly challenges us how to live in the world, with love and respect for all people.
And so we waded into a discussion that most people steer away from. We each shared who we are and what our backgrounds were like. Because that is what has made us who we are today. I think the best chance we have to changing in the futures is to be aware of where we have come from in the past and how that has shaped us into the person we are today. If I can do that, it is my hope that I can be‘re-created’ into someone different. To paraphrase Martin Luther Kind, I want to be a person who can judge people, “by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.”
I hope that you can join us on a journey of self-discovery and an awareness of how of our ‘human-ness’ we all share.
Let me know what you think.