On this important day to remember Martin Luther King Jr, I am reminded of my many black and brown brothers and sisters who speak important words into my life: from the famous (Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Fannie Lou Hamer) to the “common” (companions on the journey here in Cincinnati like Yaacov Delaney, Gary Boyle, Eric Crew, and Brian Woody, and persons spread far and wide like Tyler Burns and others). In a very real sense, MLK Day is about them, too, as it is a day to consider the multifaceted beauty of God’s human creation and choose to privilege the voices and experience of those historically marginalized.
I am also deeply grateful for our church community, where as persons of racial privilege, we have chosen to lean into the responsibility of racial reconciliation, initiating uncomfortable conversations and asking good questions about our level of participation in God’s reconciling love for everyone. This is largely due to the leadership of our Pastor Joshua Stoxen, who in response to the sense of despair he heard and felt in the voices of black pastors he is in relationship with, led us to dedicate over a month and a half of our community’s worshiping life to exploring how we can be “in the struggle” in our city and in wider society. As an elder of our community, I was invited to speak several times during this period, each of these two talks representing a window into my own journey and aspirations towards racial reconciliation.
The first talk is entitled “Combatting Racial Misunderstanding and Antipathy,” featuring the powerful words of Bryan Stevenson in the middle of the reflection time (from his powerful TED Talk “We Need to Talk About an Injustice.” Here is the link:
The second talk is focused on community development, gentrification, social stratification, and God’s dream of “beloved community.” That talk is below:
May God bring his blessing to these aspirations, and enable us all to continue “in the struggle” towards God’s Beloved Community.