Galatians 6:2: Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The Church is good at showing up when there are needs. We know to mobilize when someone dies, when a storm hits, when a diagnosis is revealed. We come armed with casseroles, “thinking of you” cards, words of encouragement, and lots and lots of prayers. We ask sincerely “what can we do?” “Anything—you name it.” And we mean all of these things.
We also show up for needs that are not sudden. We serve in soup kitchens. We volunteer at the clothing bank. We show up on a Saturday morning to work on a Habitat House.
We see the needs. We meet the needs. We are the church.
Sometimes, we can’t see the needs. Sometimes we need someone else to tell us where the needs are so that we can get involved. We need the local school to call and say there are children without lunch money. We need a church member to tell us there is a family they know who won’t have Christmas this year. We need the local news to report on Boy Scout troops losing their space to meet, so we can offer our building in hospitality.
Right now, white Americans are struggling to hear our brothers and sisters of color as they share uncomfortable truths with us. We are hearing (particularly from the African American community) that they face routine injustices, suspicion, and heartache white-America doesn’t see. Rather than listen with empathy as these stories are shared, we have covered our ears and shouted in response, “All lives matter!” “Black-on-black crime!” “Quit playing the race card!” “He had a rap sheet!”
What if we viewed these stories of mistreatment and these calls for justice like that phone call from the school to alert us to a need we didn’t previously know about? What if, instead of quickly responding with “yeah, but. . .”, we simply responded with, “I had no idea what life is like for you. Your life does matter to me, so can you please tell me more of your story?” What if we allowed ourselves to be students and allowed people of color to teach us about their experience of life in America?
Rev. Emily Slade
Minister of Children and Visitation