June 3, 2020
Dear MainStreet Covenant family:
The following Scripture is my rally cry and aspiration for MainStreet Covenant Church in these days:
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.” (Phil 1:15-16 The Message)
In biblical Greek there are two words for “time.” Chronos is simply the “chronological” passing of each subsequent minute and hour. The second kind of time is Kairos which refers to “a propitious moment for decision or action.” We are experiencing a “kairos moment” for our country and for the White church in America if we will “have ears to hear what the Spirit (and the cries of others) is saying to the church” (Rev. 3:22).
Like many of you, I’m experiencing a confusing spectrum of emotions from grief and sadness, to anger and frustration, to disillusionment and feelings of helplessness. Some of us may be feeling some defensiveness rising up (“I’m not racist”; “it’s not my problem,” “it’s a two-way street,” etc.). Many of us are tired of riots and protests and “talk,” and want to know what we can DO to become part of the solution. Some of us are privileged enough to be able to “turn it off” and distract ourselves with suburban preoccupations.
In the Scripture above, we are called to go out into the world “uncorrupted” and to be a “breath of fresh air,” but we first need to admit the ways we’ve been “polluted” and “corrupted” by systems of inequality that we have inherited. I believe I am a person of goodwill and I have often said, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.” I lead a church of people who probably feel much the same.
What I have been slower to learn as a middle class white man living in the suburbs all my life is that I have often been blind to my own privilege and complicity, and while I am non-racist in my personal interactions with people of color, I have also been silent and haven’t used my position and voice to expose and address the unjust systems and invisible structures of society that do work in my favor and often hold others down.
A high personal value of mine is maintaining an openness to expanding my horizons through further education, and a stubborn refusal to get locked into one idealogical echo chamber that only reinforces my own views and never makes me feel uncomfortable. I like to think this value is taking root at MainStreet as well.
Let me be very clear: Jesus himself has been the main voice who has disturbed and challenged much of my white suburban American conservative Evangelical values and politics I have been wrestling with for many years.
Dear MainStreet Covenant family, I want to invite us all to embark on a journey together into some conversations that may be uncomfortable, challenging and ultimately liberating. We believe God has cultivated a culture at MainStreet that embraces honesty, admits we’re all works-in-progress, and a place where it’s safe to ask tough question and face awkward issues without fear of judgment or shame.
This is a “kairos moment” that I pray we don’t let pass us by leaving us unchanged. In the coming week, we will be sharing some specific opportunities to learn, interact and grow in your understanding of a racial justice. Part of this will be me sharing my personal journey around this issue. We will also be hearing from other voices and perspectives that will make us uncomfortable at times. Let’s pray for open minds and receptive hearts.
I know we are feeling separated in quarantine and it would be ideal to have all these conversations together in-person as a large group. Until that happens, we ask that you all choose to engage with the resources and opportunities provided in coming days. Please be sure to watch our Sunday services as a family each week, and show for other small in-person gatherings and virtual conversations. We need to stay united now more than ever.
Echoing Paul above, I want to “have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns” and I am hopeful MainStreet will “be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing” (Phil 1:16 MSG).
Let all who have ears to hear listen what the Spirit is saying to us in this key historical moment.