Frustration, helplessness, numbness, pain, grief, lamentations, are the words I have been feeling and expressing these past few weeks in between deep sighs. In the midst of this storm of emotions, we had Pentecost Sunday a couple weeks ago. I heard Ollie talk about the Holy Spirit breathing new life to bring forth the birth of the church, and how poignant that is, as the phrase “I can’t breathe!” summed up the life, and death, of not only one man, but whole communities. And how this virus has attacked so many people so that they could not breathe. Breath. Life. New life. I hope that the church, and we as the body of Christ, will truly become life-breathers, breathing new life to many places, persons, and structures that will need new life as we slowly come out of our homes and quarantines to enter into the coming “new normal.”
For 400 years, the descendants of Abraham were enslaved in Egypt, powerless to liberate themselves. As slaves in Egypt, God’s people were worked unceasingly and mercilessly by Pharaoh. Their life was so terrible that by the time God sent Moses to deliver them, the people had given up all hope of being free. Their conditions continued to be painful even after God rescued them from their oppressor, at one point the Israelites were tempted to go back to slavery. God can bring life out of pain. We learn how God sustains us in the midst of brokenness. Just as God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land, God rescued us from slavery to sin and gave us hope in Jesus Christ. When we remember where we came from, and the sin that drove us away from God, we become more grateful to God for reaching out to us and setting our feet in a firm place.
Engaging in the work of race relations, racial healing, reconciliation, inclusion and transformation can be challenging. How can you step out of your comfort zone and into the pain of others? As the body of Christ, I hope that we become life-breathers, breathing new life to our neighbors and many places that will need new life. It is our call to live out discipleship for the grace we received from God through Jesus Christ. We can embrace our discomfort to building up the community with persons who look different than us, who all make up the body of Christ. By God’s grace, we can have the courage to see each other in the way God sees us.