Let me set the context again when it comes to posting something on race and racism. The “big event” for me was the shooting of Philando Castile last summer. So many high profile shootings had been boiling over to that point, but when this shooting happened in my metro area to a man who was simply pulled over for a minor traffic violation (and having a “wide nose” like a robbery suspect…) I was stirred in a way that hasn’t let up. And I can’t let it up. I pray I can’t let it up. Continue reading “The hard discussions on race”
Lament isn’t always theologically correct. Lament isn’t always nice and neat.
Lament isn’t always soft… or done in time to get to lunch.
Lament is brutal because the soul has been assaulted. It is a crying out in pain because in that moment… in that time… there is nothing else to do.
Lament is personal. Lament is communal.
America doesn’t do lament. But we need to.
Lament is deep in my soul because “the system” failed the family of Philando Castile this week. Lament is deep because among the friends I have there is a sense of, “Here we go again.” And “reason” doesn’t help. “Statistics” don’t help.
The soul has been assaulted.
Lament needs a space in our community. The hurt needs to fly out of the soul and those nearby need to stand aside and let it happen. Instead… we judge. We judge because we think that’s not what WE would do… or a “civilization” would do.
Black or white, lament needs to fly out of the soul and allow the pain to have a way to exit. And it won’t make sense a lot of the time.
I was with another family this week who suffered the loss of a teenage girl. There were a lot of “F” bombs. A lot of bad theology. And it was loud.
And I wept with them. I sat with them and let the soul cry out.
There are feelings we have in the moment that ultimately may or may not be true… but in that moment have a sense of truth. The soul has been assaulted.
My soul has been assaulted in a tragic loss this week. My soul has been assaulted in a tragic court decision.
And in this moment, I am at a loss to say, “Trust the system.” In this moment… I do not “trust the system.” The system keeps failing minority communities. And, quite honestly, that system may end up failing the very law enforcement community it was designed to try and help.
In this moment I am not going to say, “Now… protest nice, y’all.” Not in this case. Philando Castile was compliant that night… and he is dead. A bad cop (and that doesn’t reflect on the meaning that he can also be a “good person”) was ill-prepared for the job and he is home. And free.
The soul has been assaulted. And lament needs to flow.
For now… let it. There isn’t a “right way” for this to happen.
“It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… Each by itself has profound perils and pitfalls. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and the one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation and despair.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
I am working my way through a book called Lessons from the East: Finding the Future of Western Christianity in the Global Church by Bob Roberts, Jr. I’ll have a review of the book later, but there are some key thoughts to pass out along the way.
The challenge is to live deeply as Christians IN the public square. It is about what we can do to bless a community rather than just simply talk about what we’re against.
How big is your gospel? What would it look like for your love to extend to the leaders of government, business, education, and other domains?
It’s a key question I’ve asked myself and my church for several years. How does that look? How are we known in our community?
These words may have truth, but in our day they seem to be incredibly strange:
When another Christian falls into obvious sin, an admonition is imperative, because God’s Word demands it. The practice of discipline in the community of faith begins with friends who are close to one another. Words of admonition and reproach must be risked when a lapse from God’s Word in doctrine or life endangers a community that lives together, and with it the whole community of faith. Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin. When we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and helping, it is a service of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine community. Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God’s judgment is helpful and healing.
“Well… what is sin?”
“Well… who are YOU to judge?”
The way to wholeness and healing is to recognize there is a sickness. We need that calling out in our lives once again.