What does Jesus’ lament over the city of Jerusalem in Luke 13:31-35 have to do with racial relations in the US? What does Jesus’ wilderness temptations in Luke 4 have to do with white privilege? How does the prophet Isaiah’s proclamation that God is “about to do a new thing” (43:19) speak into your life regarding your awareness and experience of racialization?
These are some of the questions we’ll be asking during the upcoming season of Lent – which comes early this year. Ash Wednesday is February 10. We’ll be taking the traditional scriptures assigned for the season and pondering how they intersect with our own experiences of race and racism.
As a way of getting this conversation going I’ll be hosting Bible studies in our home throughout Lent. They’ll take place mid-week, for 75 minutes over the lunch hour, with a meal of soup, bread, and fruit provided. Mark is also leading one breakfast gathering. Each time we’ll be looking at the key scriptures for an upcoming worship service and discussing them through the lens of race. I plan to use comments, stories, and insights from these gatherings to weave into sermon presentations.
So, in order for this to work, we need people! If you are interested in participating, go to the link provided on the January 21 Phloem and Xylem email and sign up for one of these gatherings. Before you do, here are some other points to keep in mind:
+ I’m committed to making these conversations as accessible as possible, so no previous study or knowledge of these scriptures is required or expected.
+ Please sign up for only one gathering – preferably one of the early ones until those are filled.
+ Participants will receive an email prior to the gathering that names the one or two scriptures we’ll be discussing, with some questions to ponder ahead of time.
+ We will start and end promptly to respect schedules (11:45am – 1:00pm).
+ Just bring your Bible. Food provided.
On a related note…
The most recent issue of The Christian Century carries a news piece about a December gathering in Charleston, South Carolina that brought together 300 clergy and community leaders to address race relations. Charleston is home to Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine members, all black, were murdered by a white extremist during a Bible study.
One of the themes to emerge from the gathering was a call for “small, face-to-face gatherings, such as sharing meals and Bible studies.” The keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, pastor emeritus of the influential Riverside Church in New York City, stated: “I am proposing that because of what happened in Charleston, that it took place at the Bible study, faith communities, in honor of those Charleston Nine, ought to hold Bible studies in which there is for the first time a demand that the groups be multiracial,” Forbes said, “and that they discuss issues about what we as individual congregations can do.” The article notes that Forbes has developed such a Bible study, based on the book of Ephesians – although I don’t think it is available yet.
During Lent we are having Bible studies among ourselves, but I like the possibilities of partnering with another congregation later in the year to have multi-racial Bible studies.
With good hope,