Most of Minnesota is about to be covered with yet another blanket of fresh snow. We are looking at another weekend of being stuck inside. Faith communities are making tough decisions right now about whether to cancel Sunday services. And it’s Lent: a season of return to God, of fasting, of making space for difficult truth-telling and real change in anticipation of new life.
Lately, I am hearing from the church that this is our Lenten work: letting our hearts and our practices be converted by Jesus toward the work of racial justice and racial reconciliation.
Justice and advocacy are not new subjects in Episcopal faith communities. What I’m hearing differently now is the clarity that our deepest DNA, as followers of the way of Jesus, is about allowing the wounds of our identity to be healed by the love of God. We live in a context founded deeply on racial inequality and social stratification, a context that tells us to look the other way, that we are each the product of our individual merit alone. Our hearts and minds have been molded not to see the sin of racism when it is standing right in front of us, when it is speaking inside of us.
What I’m hearing around the Church now is new clarity that it is time to embrace “anti-racism as a spiritual practice and an essential component of our discipleship,” as my colleague Devon Anderson put it the other day.
If you are feeling called to see our society in new ways, feed your soul with these resources while you’re snowed in this Sunday:
Watch this video of Chad Schwitters on ‘the Theology of Enough’ at Lay Leadership Day
In this 30-minute video, our neighbor in North Minneapolis Chad Schwitters gives a moving talk about his own work of racial recovery in the way of Jesus. He unpacks texts from the Gospel of Luke to argue that Jesus’ ministry to the blind is ministry to all of us who have become well-adjusted to injustice.
Sacred Ground: a film- and readings-based dialogue series on race, grounded in faith. This 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific-American histories as they intersect with European-American histories. Small groups are invited to walk through chapters of America’s history of race and racism while weaving in threads of family story, economic class, and political and regional identity. However, you can begin reflecting on the materials from your own home today.
Read Welcoming Justice: God’s Movement Toward Beloved Community by historian/theologian Charles Marsh and veteran Civil Rights organizer John Perkins. Here’s a teaser:
“The next great awakening that I see coming is a renewal of what it means to be church. For this generation of young people, church isn’t going to be a social club where you gather once or twice a week to recharge your personal faith. It’s not going to be an institution that wields its power in society either. The world is tired of Christian plans to fix things. It is starving for the kind of authentic relationships that Christ makes possible as we’re reconciled to one another in his body, the church.”
And, if you want to go further, here are three more ways to keep going:
- Check out the resources at CreatingBelovedCommunity.org.
- Get trained in the new Dismantling Racism: Youth Curriculum materials.
- Dive into your own skills for intercultural work.
Whether you choose to embrace shoveling snow as a Lenten discipline or not, I hope your Lent goes beyond fasting from and carves out time for your encounter with Jesus, who promises sight to the blind. As Chad reminds us: “As people of faith in hot pursuit of this Jesus of Nazareth, we’ve been given a chance to live into the kingdom here on earth in new and creative and better ways, to recover our sight, to practice Jubilee, to have enough, but not too much, so that there might be enough for our neighbors.”