There Will Be A Day

Ralph LoweA Letter to Pittsburgh Presbytery from
Elder Ralph Lowe
Director of Justice Ministries
August 13, 2020

A few months ago, I wrote a letter to my white siblings in Christ expressing my exhaustion, outrage, worry, desperation, and hurt as a black man following the murders of Antwon Rose, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. I continue to have moments of fatigue of the blatant divisiveness projected by the leadership of this country. Outraged at the lack of pursuit of justice for the murderers of unarmed young black woman and men. Worried when my youngest son asks, “Will it ever get better for us, Daddy?”, that his own children will be repeating that same question to him in 20 years.  Wounded by the daily, oppressive reminders of the color of my skin.

But today I also have hope. This week we learned Joe Biden has selected Senator Kamala Harris of California as his vice-presidential running mate. Senator Harris is the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major party. Her selection shatters the projected historical and societal norms of what a president or vice president is supposed to look or sound like. Our government is supposed to reflect and represent its people, and far too long has failed to accomplish that. Senator Harris represents what is possible in a diverse society, a representation and true reflection of our great country today. No matter what your political views, we all should rejoice that what was unthinkable a generation ago is now possible.

But my hope is grounded in a cautioned understanding of the road ahead. When former President Barack Obama was selected as the first black president of the United States, it was met with the notion that racism had ended in this country. As we live together today, we know that was a false narrative.  A narrative allowing for an increase in racial division across this country. While we celebrate the selection of Senator Harris, now is the time to take larger steps towards the eradication of structural, systemic, and institutional racism. The end of racism begins with continuously addressing and readdressing injustices from racism, identifying and supporting policies that promote racial equity, demanding a stop to racist behavior, and embodying the opportunity presented by the Christian framework of repentance and forgiveness that leads to reconciliation.

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”(Mark 3:25). The most important part of our answer to the call of the Spirit is destroying the walls of division. Divided we are easily manipulated to resentment, anger, superiority, and distrust. The enemy of human freedom and dignity is division! Faith and practice are how we relate, understand, and love our neighbors and come together in unity. Confirmation bias promotes division. We can no longer sit comfortably in bubbles of like-minded individuals and avoid our own awareness and transformation. How can we fight against racism and oppression of any kind if we only share thoughts and ideas with similarly minded individuals? Comfort is the adversary of enlightenment and true change in the fight against racism.

And yet, we continue to see division progressing; the 1% vs. the 99%, Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative, rural vs. urban, believers vs. non-believers, and white people vs. people of color. In addition, the invisible enemy of Covid creates a very visible separation from one another. Hope reminds us we are ALL united in Christ, coming together and becoming one in Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us “For he (Christ) is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14) In a world that seems divided, the good news is we are indeed united!

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Christ confirmed what is written in the law to be truth.  It says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we receive the answer to the questions, “what must I do to inherit eternal life and who our neighbor is to be loved as ourselves?” The Good Samaritan parable confirms the connection between how we walk with God and how we walk with our neighbors. A loving relationship to God is what gives life and the product of our love for God is loving and caring for all those made in God’s image. Racism contradicts the belief that we are all created in God’s image. The bondage of racism can be broken through our work to love our neighbors?

I know many of you have answered the call of the Spirit and sought ways to be the “Good Samaritan” by taking the time to do some general and pragmatic things in addressing oppression and racism. Many have created small groups focusing on racial harmony and awareness, intentionally sought out perspectives of people of color through writers, leaders, and scholars, and lead your congregations, friends, and families into relationships with individuals and communities of color.  But we must continue to seek new ways into an uncharted future of racial harmony.

Much like the Good Samaritan, we have difficult and selfless work ahead of us and it may seem far beyond what we can see ourselves accomplishing. As we begin to embody a future of justice and inclusion we must look back and recall how far Christ has brought us, knowing through him all things are possible. We must gather the courage to project as much love and truth as we can into this world, not only to those with shared opinions but also, from a place of love, with those who do not.

Some general ways to dismantle the walls of division:

On this journey of faith and practice, everyone is needed. I hope and pray my children will someday live in a world where healthy, diverse relationships are encouraged. Where differences and diversity no longer hinder unity but enhance the context in which God invites us to live in love. I pray that when my white sisters and brothers in Christ decide through faith to act against matters of racism and division, that their character will become engraved on their children’s hearts and the hearts of generations to follow.  I pray for that day of unity.  I believe there will be a day.

This entry was posted in Weekly Newsletter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.