I think the nation is beginning to see the violence on videos with police as a more visible manifestation of the individual and systemic racism that is present for people of color every day, whether that is shopping, a bank loan application, or a job interview; I have a broken heart because it has taken so long to realize that racism is pervasive in America and is a demon that afflicts us all. I have a broken heart because in the wake of this most recent violence, it is clear that privilege and power is regularly used to ignore the issues of violence and racism in America.
My heart is broken and I want change. This is not who I am called to be as a Christian and I want to change. I am scared because I will make mistakes and it is going to take a lot of patience from those already fighting to change a hateful and rigged system. I am scared because I need to seek forgiveness to move forward.
Trust for friendship, love, and security is a goal…but is it possible to start with forgiveness? Is it possible that we might join in asking for Christ’s help in reconciling our broken relationships? I am praying often for Christ’s help to deconstruct racism both personally and systemically, for those in the process of grieving, and for a process of change. I am praying for new relationships forgiveness and healing. And I am praying for more prayer: We are all in desperate need of God’s help to…
- Never forget that every human being is a child of God;
- Show up and be intentional about listening to the powerless;
- Get better at seeing Christ at work in and for the lives of all people;
- Be reminded that violence and prejudice is sin;
- Use our power and privilege to speak up and root out racism;
- Constantly ask for help and acknowledge that limitations and ignorance exist;
- Regularly pray for and seek to help those who are victimized by racism and violence;
- Pray for the strength and motivation to stay the course.
I will seek to have hard conversations with my black friends. I will be open to new relationships so that I may keep learning and growing and discovering. I pray for trust so I may better provide support as an ally to those fighting the presence of racial injustice. I will seek ways to use my privilege and power to give voice to those not heard. I pray that in some small way, I can serve my brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need of healing. I pray for hope. May I be reminded of my broken heart every time we prepare for Holy Communion and say, "As the grains of wheat, once scattered on the hill, were gathered into one to become our bread. So may all your people, from all the ends of Earth, be gathered into one in You."
Grace and Peace and Healing,
Aaron Schmalzle is a mission developer in the ELCA and, along with Pastor Jared Witt, is a Founding Director of Castle Church Brewing Community and Castle Church Faith Community.