Desmond Tutu recalls when he was a young person, one day he was out walking with his mother when a white man, an Anglican priest named Trevor Huddleston, tipped his hat to her, it was the first time he had ever seen a white man pay this respect to a black woman. The incident had a profound effect on Tutu, he decided that he didn’t need to accept discrimination and prejudice and that Christianity could be a powerful force for bringing racial equality.
The Unspoken Privilege of Being White – Richard Rohr.
For a long time, I naively hoped that racism was a thing of the past. Those of us who are white have a very hard time seeing that we constantly receive special treatment [because of social systems built to prioritise people with white skin]. This systemic “white privilege” makes it harder for us to recognise the experiences of people of colour as valid and real when they speak of racial profiling, police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, continued segregation in schools, lack of access to housing, and on and on. This is not the experience of most white people, so how can it be true? Now, we are being shown how limited our vision is.
Because we have never been on the other side, we largely do not recognise the structural access we enjoy, the trust we think we deserve, the assumption that we always belong and do not have to earn our belonging. All this we take for granted as normal. Only the outsider can spot these attitudes in us. [And we are quick to dismiss what is apparent to our neighbours who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour from their lived experience.]
Of course, we all belong. There is no issue of more or less in the eyes of an Infinite God. Yet the ego believes the lie that there isn’t enough to go around and that for me to succeed or win, someone else must lose. And so we’ve greedily supported systems and governments that work to our own advantage at the expense of others, most often people of colour or any highly visible difference. The advancement of the white person was too often at the cost of other people not advancing at all.
I would have never seen my own white privilege if I had not been forced outside of my dominant white culture by travel, by working in jails, by hearing stories from counselees and, frankly, by making a complete fool of myself in so many social settings—most of which I had the freedom to avoid!
Power and privilege never surrenders without a fight. If your entire life has been to live unquestioned in your position of power—a power that was culturally given to you, but you think you earned—there is almost no way you will give it up without major failure, suffering, humiliation, or defeat. As long as we really want to be on top and would take advantage of any privilege or short cut to get us there, we will never experience true “liberty, equality, fraternity”. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we can let go of power and privilege and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible.
Creator God, you created and love all people.
We come before you today confessing the sin of racism in our country, our community and in ourselves. Forgive us for our part in it, for the ways we have contributed to the oppression of others whether knowingly or unknowingly.
We want to be different and for our nation to be different, but it is hard when we face the injustice of institutions as well as the prejudice in ourselves.
Help us to see the reality of racism and bigotry wherever it exists and to have the courage to challenge it. Through your Holy Spirit, may we be given the grace and power to change within ourselves and also, to join with others to do the work of love and justice in the world; to move toward the goal of bringing an end to racism. Amen.
Christ, you reached across the ethnic boundaries
of Samaritan, Roman and Jew,
help us to break down the barriers in our country,
enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,
and free us to challenge and uproot it
from ourselves, our society and our world. Amen.
Mark 7: 24-30 [NIV]
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
(I can’t think of another occasion in any of the four gospels, apart from this story, were Jesus concedes the argument. Interestingly, he does so to someone who is a woman, a gentile, a foreigner & a pagan.)
Galatians 3: 26-29 [NIV]
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Isaiah 1: 17 [NRSV]
….learn to do good;
rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
plead for the widow.
Extract from: ”Why ‘I can’t breathe’ has echoed around the world.” by Ben Okri,
The Guardian, 8/6/20.
In the presence of the One who gives life and love to all creation:
Breathe in the breath of God
Breathe out your cares and concerns
Breathe in the love of God
Breathe out your doubts and despairs
Breathe in the life of God
Breathe out your fears and frustrations.
Breathe in the breath of God
Breathe out your tensions and turmoil
Breathe in the love of God
Breathe out your haste and hurry
Breathe in the life of God
Breathe out your work and worry.
May the Spirit breathe God’s life into us all. Amen.
Blessed are you…..
blessed are you who are raging at injustice.
blessed are you who are mourning.
blessed are you who feel numb.
blessed are you who feel sick and tired.
blessed are you who refuse to look away.
blessed are you who are peacemakers.
blessed are you who are tending to the needs of others.
blessed are you who care for the sick and dying.
blessed are you who are courageous and compassionate
blessed are you who have been campaigning.
blessed are you who have been speaking truth to power.
blessed are you who have been resisting.
blessed are you who feel broken beyond repair.
blessed are you who are raw beyond words.
blessed are you who are working hotlines and crisis centres and bearing witness to the forces of violence and abuse.
blessed are you who are running foodbanks and homeless shelters.
blessed are you who are marching.
blessed are you who are weeping.
blessed are you who remind others they are good and beautiful and beloved and worthy and capable of healing beyond their wildest dreams.
blessed are we when we dare to dream of a world without sexual violence, without racism, without xenophobia , without misogyny, without homophobia, without state brutality, without violence, without injustice.
blessed are we when we stay tender and gentle.
blessed are we when we stay passionate.
blessed are we when we dare to imagine change and transformation.
blessed are we when we labour to make it so.
Rev. Anna Blaedel
Prayers for the people and the world.
Sharing bread and wine.
We break bread and drink wine together and remember Jesus.
Blessed are those, Jesus said, who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be filled.
We break this bread with those who:
hunger for justice,
dream of a land free from occupation,
long to live life free from fear,
search for food and water each day,
long for companionship.
The bread held in Jesus’ hands … the words of blessing …the breaking of the bread, and then the shocking words, “this is my body… broken… for you…”
May this bread be food for our journey as we “seek justice”. Amen.
We drink this wine with those who:
see too much blood spilled,
watch loved ones die,
are judged by their race and skin colour,
are trafficked and enslaved,
long for someone to wipe away their tears.
The cup of wine, an ancient memorial re-imagined… the blessing … and then the heart-breaking words, “this is my blood… poured out… for you and for many…”
May this wine be a sign that we are no longer in thrall to the ‘old order’ whose power Christ has broken. Amen.
Creator God, you have opened our eyes to the world around.
May we not grow weary because of what we see:
war instead of peace,
racism instead of harmony,
despair instead of hope,
great riches for some instead of prosperity for all,
exploitation instead of justice,
climate change and pollution instead of nurture and care.
We know you continually call us to pursue justice inspired choices.
Empower us to look upon the people of the world as our neighbours
that we will not be silent at injustice
that we will not be silent about racism
that we will not let hatred or despair win over love and hope
that we will not sit by as your world is damaged beyond repair.
We pray that your Spirit will continually challenge us to make choices inspired by love, justice and compassion.