Matthew 23:11-12 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. NRSV
We United Methodists are big on “growing in grace”. We do not believe that our Christian faith stops with conversion but rather is a life long process of following Christ and becoming more perfect in love.
The hard thing about Christian growth is that it often involves having to admit, at least to ourselves, that we have not been who we needed to be in some parts of our lives. We have not done all that we needed to do. Despite our confessional prayers that acknowledge these truths, we still struggle with acknowledging such truths in concrete ways in our every day lives.
I think humility at the very least involves a willingness to be able to say from time to time that we could be wrong. We thought we understood. We thought we were listening. We thought we were speaking up and acting when we needed to. We hoped we were moving to a place in our country where people were no longer judged by the color of their skin.
And then we witnessed the death of George Floyd as an officer sworn to protect and serve kept a knee to his neck through pleas of I can’t breathe and calls for his mother. And there was no looking away. There was no justification or excuse. It seems that for many in our country this death, though only one of many deaths of persons of color past and present at the hands of those promising to serve, this death was a tipping point.
I confess that I have found myself in a place of conviction. Conviction is that work of the Holy Spirit in our soul that often stirs a sense of “dis ease” as it moves us to a place where we can see and acknowledge our sin and brokenness. We can acknowledge that we may still have some work to do to be where Christ is leading us. I believe that many of us have worked hard as people of faith to overcome the racism that we grew up with and yet here we are witnessing yet another death.
Deacon (for the Catholic Church) speaking at Saturday’s peaceful march and rally in New Bern (Stop the Killing, Begin the Healing) said of the many deaths over many years that each time he would ask himself:
“When are they going to do something about this?”
He spoke of coming to a different question in a time of prayer.
“When am I going to do something about this?”
In my own time of conviction I have had to ask myself if the work that I have done so far in resisting racism is enough or if God is pulling me forward to new opportunities of service and love?
Humility allows us to entertain such a question before God. We know that we have miles to go in many areas of our lives and in the world if we are to participate in Jesus prayer that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it in heaven.”
If you have found yourself in such a place of “dis ease” may the grace of God give you all that you need to grow more perfect in Christ’s love during these difficult days. And as you humble yourself to acknowledge any failures of love may you be surprised by the joy that comes from being exalted by God.
Rev. Deborah Morgan