If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.1 John 4:20-21
Today is Thursday, October 1st and I am writing to you from a place I find awkward. Namely, in between two startlingly different events: the first presidential debate, which occurred Tuesday night, and World Communion Sunday, which is this weekend. During the former, I watched the current President demure when asked to condemn white supremacy in no uncertain terms. In the hours since (and under what appears to be considerable pressure from his own party), he has attempted to walk back his remarks somewhat, but as of this writing has not forthrightly condemned white supremacy. Let me say this now and in no uncertain terms: white supremacy is incompatible with Christianity. I condemn it.
In less than three days, we will gather with brothers and sisters of every color, shape, language, orientation, gender identity, and nationality and be invited to receive and partake of that which is impossible to earn: the grace of God made known to us in the sacrament of Holy Communion. It cannot be bought, bartered, or stockpiled – freely offered to all, it can only be accepted …or rejected. Scripture is clear throughout the New Testament, however, that this same offer is made to ALL humankind and without regard to race, language, or background (see Acts 2, Acts 8:26, and plenty of other examples). To accept this gift from God means coming to table with even those whom you may consider a foe, or perhaps even an enemy.
We should not need to be reminded of this, but after witnessing what passed for debate on Tuesday, here we are. We, the global Christian Church, the Body of Christ alive in the world today, cannot simply allow tacit or outright support for white supremacy to go unchecked or unchallenged. To do so would be a mockery of the symbolic body and blood of the One whom we proclaim gave himself as a sacrifice for all, reconciling us with God and each other.
The next month will be an arduous one. Many will seek to prey on our weary souls and divide us by attempting to return us to the various tribes of our former identities in order to control and contain us. Let this Sunday, World Communion Sunday, nourish our bodies, our spirits, and our resolve to love one another like our own life depends upon it. As much as it depends upon you, do your best to stand up for the vulnerable and voiceless. Pray and trust in God’s goodness that created us in all our magnificent diversity and steadfastly guides us on our way, whatever may come.
Work and pray, friends. Work and pray.
Update: The President has publicly condemned ‘all white supremacists’ (story here and elsewhere) since this article was written.
I commend him for it. However, his initial refusal to do so and appear to ‘call out’ has given succor to those who do not view people of color as equal, and that will not be easily overcome. Still, it is a step in the right direction and important to acknowledge progress wherever it may be found.