Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord . . . I Want to See You
It’s the season of Epiphany – a celebration of God being revealed in Jesus Christ, and a time for us to open our eyes anew to how God is being revealed in our lives. Epiphany is not a visual revelation, but an opening and renewing of our minds; a time for “seeing” more fully God’s truth that often lies buried in the clutter of this world.
This Epiphany, I am seeking truth through dialogue with several authors of recent and well-regarded books on race and the sin of racism. My reading list includes books by both black and white authors
addressing this issue from a variety of perspectives:
Award winning journalist Ta-Nehesi Coates writes an open letter to his son on the challenges of life in a black male body, Between the World and Me (Spiegel & Grau, 2015).
James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Orbis Books, 2011) connects Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection to the martyrdom of countless African Americans.
In America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America, (Brazos Press, 2016), Jim Wallace preaches a wake-up call to the white evangelical Christian church on the need to repent of the sin of racism.
Likewise, Dr. Jennifer Harvey (who led a workshop I attended in October and wrote about in the November newsletter) raises compelling questions about what racial reconciliation really looks like in her book, Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation (Eerdmans, 2014).
Finally, Kareem Abduhl Jabbar invites conversation on race, religion and the particular challenges facing our nation in his recent book, The Writing on the Wall (Liberty Street, 2016), which is also Kalamazoo Public Library’s 2017 “Reading Together” book (see the library’s website for a discussion guide and information on seeing Jabbar speak at Miller Auditorium in March: http://www.kpl.gov/reading-together/).
I invite you to join me in this truth-seeking journey by reading one or several of these books, or another of the many that have been published on this issue. We’ll discuss at an open book group next month.
Why should a predominantly white church focus on the sin of racism? The question answers itself. Despite over 40 years of post-civil rights “progress” and efforts toward “racial reconciliation,” Church still remains one of the most racially divided institutions in the nation. Poverty, violence and incarceration affect an overwhelmingly greater proportion of African-Americans, and the subtle sin of racism remains unhealed by even the most well-intentioned attempts towards reconciliation. It’s time to open our eyes.
Through scripture passages on baptism, discipleship, and Jesus’ great sermon on the reversal of the status quo in the Kingdom of God, we will connect God’s Word and shine God’s light on our nation’s original sin, racism. I hope you will join me in what I am sure will be a challenging journey, but one that I hope will lead to more revelation of God through truths we have yet to discover.