June 22, 2020
Yesterday, in the sermon we heard from Nancy Taylor, she talked about being part of the Third Reconstruction – first, the Reconstruction after the Civil War, second, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s – and today a Third Reconstruction.
The Reconstruction that is happening today is that us and them are becoming we. The dividing walls of hostility are dissolving right before our eyes. The fear and the pain, so long our eyes have been closed to, has now become ours. It is no longer something that we turn away from. No longer do we view each story of police brutality as an aberration, something one-off, something surely provoked by bad behavior. Today, with horror, we’re realizing that even with the very best of intentions, we still have not seen, have not heard, have not understood what has been right before us. We are beginning to understand that we no longer have the option of closing our eyes – either we struggle for equality or we stand against it. The middle ground is no more.
It’s not just police brutality, you know. It’s putting the little black kid in the back row of his elementary school class. And then, finally seeing him, thinking of him only as an addition to the basketball team. It’s not noticing that we’ve never met a black teacher, or not noticing that – even though there are people of color in our community – we don’t actually know anyone well enough to have lunch with them. It’s not wondering why there are no black people at our beach.
In some ways, we’re waking up the way we did around homosexuality. I used to hear people say “there are no gay people here,” when, if we’d only used our eyes and good common sense, we would have realized that Aunt Marie didn’t need to have a roomie, and that the two of them were a couple. And it was embarrassing to realize how we’d closed our eyes to what was right in front of us. But this is worse. Worse, because it took more effort to ignore people, who by their skin color, should have been just as obvious as the nose on my face. But it was as if they were invisible.
I know this is hard for many of us. It’s easy to get caught up in worries about protecting the police, or looters, or any of the many alternative stories that are going around. It’s challenging to look at our world and think about what this might mean for us. Those walls we lived behind were part of what kept us “safe”. Except, you know, those walls didn’t so much keep us safe as keep us ignorant. And ignorance is never to be confused with safety.
Today, it is time to work to change our world. It is time to see the pain, to hear the need and to make a difference.
Blessings, Pastor Virginia