An Invitation for conversation by Pastor Bea Chun
My dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am beginning to think of the Summer of 2016 as the “Summer of Heartbreak.” Hardly a week goes by when we do not wake up to devastating news. As I am writing this I have barely taken in the recent terror attack in Nice, France, where a truck driver drove into a festive crowd celebrating Bastille Day. At least 84 people have died and another 50 people are considered to be “between life and death”. And now there is unfolding news of an attempted military coup in Turkey.
Closer to home, people everywhere are still grappling with the recent deaths of two Black men at the hands of police, and the killing of five police officers and the wounding of seven others.
God’s heart is filled with grief at the terrible, senseless, and brutal loss of these beautiful lives. They were, and are, God’s beloved children and the loss of their life brings much grief. May their loved ones and friends and all who grieve find themselves held in God’s loving embrace.
This is heartbreaking news and calls for mourning and reflection and a renewed commitment to work towards racial reconciliation. I find that the Black Lives Matter Network http://blacklivesmatter.com/ has much to say that is helpful, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. The leaders of our Lutheran Church have spoken out as well. You can find their statements here:
- From the Rev. Mark Holmerud, Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod posted at this Facebook link.
- A Statement from Members of the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- A Statement by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
As I read these official statements and let them percolate in my head and pray about them two things are emerging for me: First, we need to admit that we have all been raised with racist messages, and that these messages have formed us in ways which we can often not fully see ourselves and which we cannot successfully combat and overcome without the help of each other. This calls for a true commitment to be willing to do some deep and sustained work towards racial reconciliation, a work which, if we are really honest and sincere, will also include sacrifice and discomfort.
Secondly, I believe that as a queer community, we have something that we can draw on for this work: We know something about pain and rejection; we know what that feels like. We also know how to do reconciling work. We have a track record of taking creative and imaginative actions which lead to real change. We know something about work which requires long-term sustained, persistent, faithful efforts.
In this spirit, I want to invite you for a time of study and conversations. There is an amazing amount of very good resources, both from history, from current media, and from our faith leaders which we could and should read together. I have a feeling that these resources will guide us to the next step.
I suggest that starting July 24, 2016, we meet every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. for the rest of the summer to read, study and converse. To begin with, I suggest a reading of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I will also have paper copies available at church.
And once, again I want to ask you to join me in prayer for all who grieve, for all who are hurt, for all who are frightened, for all who are affected in any way by the recent events. May we remember that love is stronger than hate, and may God instill in us a resolve towards true reconciliation.
Your sister in Christ,