Fr. James on Racial Injustice, Riots, and the Deaths of George, Breonna, and Ahmaud

Dear Ones,

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have justly stirred our nation to outrage. And that outrage has turned violent. But as one the statements below will remind us, the violence born of outrage was not the first act of violence. That first act is the injustice of a society that continues to make peace with racism. Nor will that riots and protests be the final act of violence. They will be followed by marshal and police action – legal and sanctioned or not, justified or not – violence will follow violence.

Christians are taught to seek God’s peace, to pray for it, and to work for it. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom and embodies a host of meanings including health, wholeness, sound being, centeredness, and contentment. God’s peace not only excludes violence, but excludes bigotry, prejudice, racism, denial, dishonesty, corruptness, hatred, contempt, cowardliness, revenge, and violence.

We must uphold God’s vision of peace which is established by active, honest, self-sacrificial, love. That means condemning racism. It means understanding outrage and sharing in it. It means leaving no room for evils such as racism in our hearts, our thoughts, our deeds, our decisions, and our society. It means demanding justice. And once justice is secured, praying that we operate with God’s restorative grace and mercy.

I am of mixed European decent. I am white. There is much I cannot say with authority here. This I can say: the rooting out of racism in our own day is done first by recognizing our own complicity, our own paradigms and perspectives – inherited, learned, or chosen – and choosing God’s paradigm instead. Then speaking and acting out from God’s reform of our lives towards the reform of our communities and society.

Racism has infected us all in the U.S. But for white people, we’ve benefited from racism and so it has gone much more undiagnosed, unrecognized in white persons. That needs to change. That has to change. We must change that. We must change. For the love of God, for the love of our neighbor – neighbors like George, Breonna, and Ahmaud – we need to change.

And by love, by truth, by humility, by persistence, and by God’s grace we will see an end to the violence of racism in us and around us. We will see the establishment of God’s peace for our neighbors and for us. This is worth fighting for.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as in Heaven.” – Jesus

In Christ Jesus,
Fr. James+

You will find a number of statements that are representative of many in our St. Christopher’s Community below:

Southwestern Washington Synod Bishop, Rick Jaech’s Letter:
Against Racism (May 31, 2020)

Diocese of Olympia Bishop, Greg Rickel’s Blog Post:
“The Value of a Black Man’s Life in this Country.”

Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Word to the Church,
“When the Cameras are Gone We Will Still Be Here.”

ELCA Statement:
Reaffirming Commitment to Combat Racism and White Supremacy

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