You can view Pastor Kris’ reflection, Be Known, HERE.
Listening to Amanda read Dr. Seuss’s “My Many-Colored Days,” and having read… and reread… and read once again… the Bible passage from Matthew this week… I found myself not really knowing what to do with Jesus’s words. WHAT did Jesus just say? For there is A LOT going on in this passage.
Which resonates with what is going on around us today, because there IS A LOT going on in the world. There are all the feelings. All the disjointedness. All of the uncertainty of what lies ahead. So today I want to hold sacred space to hold “all the alls.”
Let us make time to hold space for our tears (this might be a good time to grab a Kleenex box). Let us acknowledge who, and what, we have lost. Back in April, on Good Friday, I encouraged us as a faith community to acknowledge our losses—those big and those small—due to the coronavirus. For the graduations not celebrated in the way we anticipated. The loved one we can only visit from a distance. The spouse who is in the hospital we cannot go see. We cry for deaths that have occurred: and the many thousands of people we have not known but who have died from the coronavirus, and those oh-so-close to us whom we have loved, who have died.
The grief is great, tears flow, and our physical distancing makes our sorrow all the more gut wrenching. We need time for lament. Time for healing.
In the sacred space of all the day’s colors—red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, green black, gray, and brown—the day that Seuss wrote about, “a mixed-up day,” seems to be all too real. The rapid shifts in our day-to-day lives, the not knowing of what lies in the future, makes life so very mixed up. Have you been feeling that the past few months?
I have. And as time goes on the mix-up-ed-ness seems to get only more mixed up!
Then, I look again at the colors. Some of them are calling out, crying out, louder than others. And these aren’t just crayons. They are not just colors. They are people. Beloved of God.
This past Wednesday marked 5 years since a white supremist walked into an evening Bible study at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina. At the end of the study, he killed 9 people. Our tears flow.
Friday, was Juneteenth commemorating the day in 1865, when people who were African American and enslaved in Texas were told they were free—two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation signed in 1863. How, and why, did it take so long?
Our many-colored human days are sooooo mixed up. Maybe it is because those of us who are white have neglected to see the beauty, dignity, and strength of our siblings who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. We have only seen the white crayon. What does that feel like?
It is time for us to see the image of God in them.
Thus, we pray in color, and we pray in song. I invite you into a place of hearing and seeing the Holy in God’s beloved children. We received permission from Taylor Fagins to share his song, We Need More.
We. Need. More.
Let us pause. Take a deep breath.
What are you hearing? What are you seeing? What are you feeling?
These are the narratives we need to hear. The stories our family members, friends, neighbors who are black, and leaders in the Black community are telling us about their experience living in the systemic racism that is embedded in our country. And we need to believe them. Just this week, data was publishing showing that Wisconsin’s “economy ranked last in racial equality among all 50 U.S. states, according to a new study of wealth and employment gaps between Black and white residents.” Nationally, “The average white family has a net worth of $171,000, compared to just $17,150 for the average black family.”
Jesus reminds us, “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.” (Matthew 10:24-39, NRSV)
We are living in systems where things have been covered up. Where stories have long been kept secret (or, at least those which we who are white have not heard). The narratives the Black community is telling again and again, are now being proclaimed from housetops as well as out on the streets.
I want to take a moment and also reflect on the reference to a sword Jesus talks about, and the division. Today, with the national unrest, those words are particularly unsettling. Rev. Dr. Joy J. Moore, shares this analogy, which I found helpful:
“I read this idea of ‘I didn’t come to bring peace, I came to bring a sword,” in the midst of all these random other pithy statements in a sense of sometimes before you can truly be healed, you have to do surgery. And so, there is a healing that takes place in the midst of a recognition of the suffering, the pain, the brokenness. The sword is not (and I’m reading this against the ‘Don’t be afraid of the one who can’t’ kill the soul’)… the sword is that shaving away… the carving away of what needs to be taken out.”
Tears. Loss. Prayers. Sobs. Tissues. In a moment when we need comfort, an escape from the coronavirus, a hug in the grief, Jesus reminds us we are also not going to be able to avoid stepping into challenging places. Places fractured with division. We are living in a time when the cancer of racism needs to be taken out—purposefully and surgically—for our communities to heal. For those in the Black community to live… and not die.
Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of the things which are becoming uncovered. Do not fear the difficult conversations, the ones we need to have, for these issues must no longer be keep secret. Instead of just whispering about change, it is time for all of us to begin to proclaim the urgency all around the city! My friends, it is into all of the uncomfortable places of our times Jesus urges us to go… and “Do not fear.”
For we have an opportunity to be a part of the creation of something new. Ripe with beautiful opportunities for sacred storytelling. Moments of prayer—through singing and painting… and the spoken word… which are weaving their way through us and with us, and in us, for the healing of the world.
on Matthew 10:24-39 offered June 21, 2020
 “5 Years After Charleston Church Massacre, What Have We Learned?” NPR. NPR, June 17, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/17/878828088/5-years-after-charleston-church-massacre-what-have-we-learned.
 Prihar, Asha. “Wisconsin’s State Economy Rife with Racial Inequity, Study Finds.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 20, 2020. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/06/20/wisconsin-economy-ranks-worst-racial-inequity-study-says/3222916001/.
 McCann, Adam. “State Economies with the Most Racial Equality.” WalletHub, June 17, 2020. https://wallethub.com/edu/state-economies-with-most-racial-equality/75810/.
 Moore, Joy J. “Sermon Brainwave.” Sermon Brainwave #730 – Working Preacher, June 13, 2020. https://www.workingpreacher.org/brainwave.aspx.