It's Juneteenth - a day to remember where we have been as a country, the work that has been done, and the work that is left to do. It's not a day that I was very familiar with until somewhat recently, but it's never to late too learn about something important.
Juneteenth, as Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis puts it, is "a day of celebrating resilience and hope. But it's also a day between the now and the not yet of Black liberation."
This sentiment gives life to the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."
So as we sit in this in-between space on Juneteenth, know that there's work to be done. Work for justice that we have to do together.
We can - and should - start with listening and dialogue. That work began last night as Russ led 100 of us in a conversation about Austin Channing Brown's wonderful book "I'm Still Here." I would encourage you to purchase it and read it if you haven't already. We'll be continuing that conversation in the coming months.
Also, on July 5th, Valerie Jacobs and I will be leading a conversation on the book Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey. It's an opportunity for parents to get together and discuss how they talk about race with their kids. You can purchase the book here or here. More details about this conversation are below!
Beyond listening and engaging in dialogue, we need to find ways to be the "movement for wholeness" that Disciples claim to be. We will have a lot of opportunities to do this as a congregation soon, but there are also other ways to engage in this work. If you want to know more, contact me or Rev. Jessica Vacketta.
And if you ever feel like you're running out of steam, remember these words from Howard Thurman.
"Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve.
Despite the dullness and barrenness of the days that pass, if I search with due diligence, I can always find a deposit left by some former radiance. But I had forgotten. At the time it was full-orbed, glorious, and resplendent. I was sure that I would never forget. In the moment of its fullness, I was sure that it would illumine my path for all the rest of my journey. I had forgotten how easy it is to forget.
There was no intent to betray what seemed so sure at the time. My response was whole, clean, authentic. But little by little, there crept into my life the dust and grit of the journey. Details, lower-level demands, all kinds of cross currents -- nothing momentous, nothing overwhelming, nothing flagrant -- just wear and tear. If there had been some direct challenge --a clear-cut issue -- I would have fought it to the end, and beyond.
In the quietness of this place, surrounded by the all-pervading Presence of God, my heart whispers: Keep fresh before me the moments of my High Resolve, that in fair weather or in foul, in good times or in tempests, in the days when the darkness and the foe are nameless or familiar, I may not forget that to which my life is committed.
Keep fresh before me the moments of my high resolve."
Grace and Peace,
Typically I have a pretty easy time writing these reflections. At this point in the week I've usually experienced something that has been thought-provoking, and I write down my thoughts and encourage you to explore yours. These past two weeks have been different. Instead of diving into different thoughts and feelings, these past two weeks have been dominated by anger and ultimate helplessness.
Each time I go to take a picture of my dog doing something silly for my Instagram story, I find myself stopping. I stop and I ask "is this what I need to be promoting right now?" And then the anger comes in, as I think about all the things I should be doing to promote justice and instead I'm sitting on my couch.
I know enough about myself to know that this anger is really coming from guilt. Guilt that I'm not doing enough, that none of us are doing enough. Then the waves of helplessness roll through because now I'm sitting on my couch thinking "but where do we even begin?" This question racks my brain every day, and I don't know that I'll ever have a sufficient answer. However, I think a good start is to hope.
We have to hope for a future where our Black and African-American siblings are not afraid to go on a run, or know that their life is immediately threatened when they see blue and red lights. We have to use hope because without it, we have no motivation to do better; to be better. We have to have hope or else we'll just be angry and sitting on our couch.
What gives you hope? How can you manifest that hope for others?
I look forward to the conversations we have planned to discuss as our role as a community in this torn world, and I pray that together we can promote hope.