Reflection – Pastor Cade
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4: 8-10
This past week, I attended a seminar at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary called “Modeling a Conversation on Race.” Attended by Black and white pastors from all different denominational traditions in the Charlotte area, this seminar was designed to equip church leaders with resources for engaging in conversations around race relations and help their congregation become bridge builders in bringing reconciliation to our divided communities.
A concept from the seminar that really moved me was the idea of redemptive leadership. The presenter emphasized how important it is for leaders involved in racial reconciliation to approach this conversation with transparency about their own need for redemption. As leaders, we have to be willing to model how Christ has healed our brokenness and begun to save us from our sin in relation to white supremacy. This involves humility and vulnerability to admit to a part of us or our history that we would rather forget. So let me give it a try.
I used to say the N-word while singing along to my favorite hip-hop songs.
I thought “gay” was a synonym for lame or uncool.
I have gotten my hair corn-rowed (not once, but three times).
I thought being called a girl was the worst insult for a guy.
I laughed at racist jokes and stereotypes.
I witnessed my Black high school classmates being tackled and tazed by campus security and said nothing.
Just to name a few.
Lord have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
I think one of the main reasons that white people seem to be reluctant to engage in a conversation around racial reconciliation is cancel culture. Folks are afraid to admit that they have ever had a prejudiced thought, acted in a racist way, or supported a systemic sin, because they believe they will be immediately “canceled” by society at large – publicly shamed and effectively ostracized. If anyone has ever felt this way about Dilworth’s Amplify team, I am truly sorry. I believe the church to be an especially fertile ground for this type of conversation because of the grace we are able to extend to one another because we know that we have first received it from God. The Amplify team comes to this work with a confessional posture because we are all broken, have all fallen short, and are all responsible for the sins of our society.
If I am a good leader for the Amplify team, it’s not because I am perfectly “woke,” or a scholar on white supremacy in America, or have always been the perfect ally, but because God has convicted me and the scales have fallen from my eyes. Now I can’t unsee what I have seen or unlearn what I have learned. I believe that God plans to use every piece of my brokenness to bring about redemption. May it be so. Amen.
Share – Are you interested in sharing a reflection in the Amplify newsletter? If you feel called to share a story, testimony, or devotion related to diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation, please reach out to Pastor Cade (email@example.com). The Amplify Team is open to all members who feel passionate about shaping our conversation and working for justice in and through Dilworth UMC. Please contact Pastor Cade to become a part of this important ministry.