Written by Gradye Parsons
Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.
The righteous perish,
and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
while no one understands. (Isaiah 57:1)
As I look over the monthly columns that I have written in the past twelve months, I realize that a fourth of them have been about racism. The latest public incident is the murders at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church (Mother Emanuel) in Charleston, South Carolina. Mother Emanuel is another in a long tragic list of African American churches that have been bombed, burned, shot up, and defaced.
I have tried to imagine a Sunday school teacher putting aside the stories of David and Goliath or Noah. “Today, children, we are going to learn to play dead in church so you won’t get shot.” I watched with many others the worship service at Mother Emanuel after the shootings. The overarching spirit of evil will not prevail was the theme.
But it sure seems like evil is working hard. It is appropriate to confront some powerful symbols of slavery and racism. It is appropriate to talk about guns. But I think we have to go deeper, much deeper.
In John 5 we have the story of the healing of the man who had been lying by the pool of Beth-zatha for thirty-eight years waiting for a cure. When Jesus sees him he asks what seems like a preposterous question “Do you want to be healed?” The man says yes and Jesus heals him.
This gets the man into trouble because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. This story reveals two parts of this work to end the evil of racism.
We have to ask ourselves, do we want to be well, completely well rid of our own racism.
Are we willing to cure our beloved institutions of the racism we constructed them to have?
Recently my doctor wanted me to think about changing one of my prescriptions. In a rare moment of self-awareness I told him, “Doc, it is not the drugs fault it’s not working well, it is mine.”
Let us desire to pick up our mats and walk toward a new day.
People like to use numbers to measure. Your doctor wants to know your blood pressure, your dentist wants to know how many times you floss, and your spouse wants to know on what temperature the thermostat is set. In the church we tend to count two things: how many members and how much money. In some sense we are counting how much have we gathered in our fold. But what if we counted a different measurement?
If you go to a university that is known for the song “Rocky Top,” then it would seem likely that you might study geology. Geology met my science requirement. So I have some understanding of how the earthquake in Nepal happened. The Indian subcontinent plate pushed against and under the Eurasian plate. The constant crashing of the two plates formed and continues to form the Himalayan mountain range. There is already Internet speculation on how the earthquake might have changed the height of Mount Everest.
[한국어] [Español] Well it seemed impossible even on March 22nd, but it does appear that Spring may arrive after all. Back in Tennessee we could still have a succession of mini-winters, but we soften the blow by giving them names like redbud winter or blackberry winter. In South Carolina, my son-in-law has already mowed his yard. In Chicago they still have their snow shovels working. We are in the same season but not in the same way.
There is something about snow that binds together a neighborhood. I noticed on my street that the first driveway cleared was the house of the widow of one of our more colorful characters. She never touched a shovel. People helped each other push their cars out of icy ruts. As our streets became more narrow, folks did the dance of who went first with some grace. Without any discussion we agreed to only attempt the hill at the entrance one at a time.
“The Brief Statement of Faith” says this:
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,
sets us ...