It pains me so to write this, another message responding to senseless acts of violence perpetrated against communities and individuals of color. For the past year, our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander siblings in the United States have increasingly been the victims of verbal racial slurs and unprovoked physical attacks. These attacks have arisen out of ignorance and the acceptance of faulty information related to the pandemic and because of xenophobia. This week, the violence escalated as a single white male murdered eight people – six of them women of Asian descent. This is not okay.
Over the years, as a community of faith we have stood up, shown up, raised our voices, and challenged the white supremacy status quo that has put in place a hierarchy that elevates one group of people over others. We have called out the racial injustices present in the economic, educational, religious, criminal justice, housing, political, and other systems in our nation. We have rejected the racialized justifications of violence against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). As Christians, we believe that we are one body and that in Christ the boundary lines of division have been erased and we are all one. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for we are all one in Christ.”
But now in Christ Jesus you . . . have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made [us] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. . . . So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God. . . (Ephesians 2:13ff).
Friends, our calling to work for justice has not and will not cease until racial prejudice and inequity is erased from our national systems, our workplaces, our places of worship, and our homes. We must not stop the work of reconciliation that God has called us to be a part of. We must not stop challenging the hierarchical system that benefits some while oppressing others. We must continue to enter difficult rhetorical and physical spaces and engage in critical conversations to offer a different narrative – a narrative of peace, acceptance, and inclusion – to those who fear the other. We must continue to see the face of God in everyone we meet and to educate others to do the same. This will take courage – courage to stand up for and stand beside the oppressed and victimized, courage to engage in conversation with those whose opinions differ from our own, courage to loudly define with our lives to the world what it means to follow Christ who has broken down the dividing walls between us and who invites us to see the face of God in one another.
The call to follow Christ is an ongoing one and one we will not shy away from. To our Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander siblings, friends, and neighbors who are feeling the deep pain of intensified violence and oppression this week and this year, and to our BIPOC siblings, friends, and neighbors who have known such pain throughout their lives, know that we stand with you. The face of God shines brightly through you all. We are one.
With so much love for you all,