The Spirit was moving at Western this weekend! Over thirty-five participants wrestled with understanding systemic racism, particularly as it affects our church, and how we might become more anti-racist. Our Crossroads leaders Jessica Vazquez Torres and Kara Bender described racism as the power of racial prejudice combined with the misuse of power by systems and institutions – even the church – to perpetuate the privilege of the racial group not in power and limit the power of others.
On Sunday, Kate Brittain and Todd Trafford shared their own responses in worship (listen here), each frustrated with the systemic racism woven into the fabric of Western, the church they each love. Todd went so far as to name the racism “sin,” and he was right. The sin of racism affects how our systems – political, economic, education, financial, entertainment – privilege some and limit others. Racism exemplifies the dilemma Paul described in the book of Romans, causing us to participate not in the things we really want, but in the very thing we hate.
Christian faith calls us to wrestle with the power of all kinds of sin – racism, classism, sexism, or other systemic abuses of power. We recognize Jesus calls us to live according to a different kind of power that stands in the face of all of the others. Jesus’s power exposes their lies about who is worthy and who is not, what is right and what is not, and what makes for love and truth and justice. Jesus’s kind of power does not hold us captive as others do, but liberates our hearts, minds and souls – all of us, every person. Jesus’s kind of power even works towards a new system, sometimes called God’s kingdom, but also God’s kin-dom, God’s empire, God’s realm, or God’s will on earth as in heaven.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll hear from Jesus in Matthew’s gospel about this kind of power that transcends the lines between personal and political, spiritual and secular. (Don’t miss hearing from guest preacher Rev. John Molina-Moore next week!) In these times when we cannot avoid news of systemic abuse of power, keep looking for the movement of the Spirit, among you who gather here and among all who long for the Jesus kind of power!
May the peace of Christ, a.k.a. the world-changing power of Jesus, be with you,