We will all remember the month of May for the rest of our lives.
We faced two major pandemics - as individuals, a congregation, a city, a nation, and in fact, the entire world.
One pandemic was the worldwide COVID-19 coronavirus, leading to continued physical distance (necessitating virtual worship), with over 100,000 deaths in this country alone.
The other pandemic, one this country has been fighting for 400 years (when the first Africans were brought to these shores as slaves), is
systemic racism. The reality of racial oppression, injustice, and inequality came to a head (again) with the murder of George Floyd, a black man living in Minneapolis, while in police custody.
As you may know, I participated in two peaceful protest rallies here in Tulsa, both sponsored, in part, by Black Lives Matters. (See photo below.) It was my hope to make a statement of presence as a white ally, and also as a supportive clergy person, specifically representing College Hill.
I suspect this past month has left us all angry and exhausted, especially knowing that SO much work lies ahead - both in working toward the day when we can return to worship and church activities in person, and in working toward serious reforms that address the systemic racism that is institutionalized in all aspects of our society and culture, including within ourselves.
I have been working on this internally for several years now. I have slowly come to understand what white privilege is and its effects to myself and to people of color. I've come to understand that African Americans simply have a different reality of the experience of life in this country. This has led to a deeper humility and a growing passion to understand more fully.
I've decided that for me, I'm not going to say, "I hope things will return to normal soon." There's a lot about the old "normal" of which I simply do not want to return. We may have indeed reached a turning point in how life is lived - both from a medical safety standpoint and with race relations.
And yet... hope remains. The way we have come to perceive and experience the nature and character of God is the understanding that
God's Sacred Presence is beyond us, among us, and within us - now and always. That's how I have come to understand the meaning of the Trinity. (Trinity Sunday, by the way, is June 7 and I will be addressing these things, along with virtual Communion.)
So, may these difficult and trying times be more like a "refining fire" - burning off that which is not leading us in the ways of love. And may we be intentional in being kind and patient with each other, giving one another the space and time to be wherever we find ourselves in our own thoughts and feelings.
I know one thing for certain, navigating the events of the past several months has been easier being part of the community of faith of College Hill!
Special blessings to you,