Summary: When as a Church talking about race, who are we? Are we a white church talking about the people of color who are not us? Are we afraid of "Made in China" taking our jobs?
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come. Amen.
Listen for the Word of God in the very beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1:1 through 2:4a
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The Title of this Sermon is "Let’s talk about race". I didn’t make it up. Today many pastors across the United Church of Christ will be preaching on race in hopes of beginning a sacred conversation, a dialogue that is needed in our pews, our homes and the hallways of power across our country. The UCC is holding this national dialogue in order to foster a spirit of healing and unity in our churches and communities. While much has been said during the past few weeks about the Rev. Jeremiah A Wright Jr., this dialogue is intended to be a larger conversation, one not focused directly or exclusively on the recent controversy, but one certainly influenced by it. Sacred conversations are never easy, especially when honest talk confronts our nation’s painful past and speaks directly to the injustices of the present day. Yet sacred conversations can, and often do, honor the value of diverse life experiences, requiring an openness to hear each others’ viewpoints. Growth often happens when honest conversations are communicated in a respectful environment. And I hope we are going to have a topic to discuss during fellowship and the days to come. So let’s talk about race, and since we are a Church we start like this:
Let the Bible talk about race:
The creation story that opens the bible invites us this day to consider our world views. Probably written in the sixth century BC, it offers a response to and a vision beyond the struggles of the people who have experienced war, deportation, a sense of chaos and instability, being caught up in the warring of the empires of the time, Babylon and Egypt. Their real or perceived dislocation is met with a foundational story about the world and their place in it. God creates an orderly world, assigning tasks to all elements therein, eventually creating humans in God’s image. What is most important: God created humans as relational beings: God brings each part of creation into relation with every other part. In spirit, everything is related. The power of relationship that connects all creation is sacred. God calls all creation into this sacred relationship and promises all peoples to be present to them and to act with steadfast love toward them—generously and graciously liberating them from oppression. In the light of relationship as being cast in God’s image— imago dei—in light of all children being of the same parent, all people are to recognize their common humanity.
Now, let History talk about race:
And again as a church of reason let’s start with our own history. The United Church of Christ Collegium of Officers states:
"We have the high and holy calling to interrupt our nation’s historical amnesia by passing on to our children a history of our church and nation that is authentic and complex; a history that neither demonizes nor sanitizes our ancestors. For example, the congregational stream of the United Church of Christ has roots that reach back to the Puritans who left Europe in the 1600s to found a “city on a hill” that could be a light to the nations. The “New World” that the Puritans sought to found, however, spelled death, devastation, and displacement for the Native inhabitants of North America when the Puritans failed to recognize the indigenous spirituality of American Indians as divinely inspired and failed to respect their inherent right to their sacred homelands." End Quote.
It is quite strange that prejudice generally focuses on the color of peoples skin, be it red, be it black, be it yellow or even white. Yes, I am well aware that in some places of this world, especially in Africa, there are spots where white people are having a hard time for the color of their skin. But this is not what we have to focus on, being a Church in North America. Today our question to history is: What have the white people of North America done to people with a different pigment coating? This can be measured on two scales:
First on the political scale:
The history of America with Asian people used to be one of war: Japan during World War II, Korea, Vietnam. Today a face of Asian heritage does no more cause hostility but over the decades love on a personal level has evolved in millions of cases. But to be honest, today there is again a sort of faces that makes some people suspicious. A face of Arab heritage is always in danger of being prejudiced as a terrorist. Seldomly do we speak about Arab Americans or our Muslim brothers and sisters.