Grace

Dear Friends, 

 

It happened again. I cried. Massive amounts of tears invaded my face this morning during my prayer time. Sure, along with the rest of the world I am in mourning, not just for George Floyd, but for humanity, for the sinful human condition. I reflected on our Pastors’ Zoom call last Friday. Void of any motive of inflicting guilt, there was such a clear expression of hurt. That is when it hit me. You see, I always thought of myself as color-blind. I am blessed to have long-time friends of color (ones that I would die for), blessed to have gone to the well-integrated Gardena High School, blessed to have parents and grandparents that did not so much as bat eye when I married outside of my race. 

 

However, what I thought was a virtue was not. Color-blindness sounds good in the sense that we don’t judge. Judgement has not been one of my many problems, only because I realize that God’s amazing grace saved a wretch like me. (“Amazing Grace” is my song!) What caught me off guard, what caused a flood of tears, what I regret deeply, is my blindness, my insensitivity to the deep hurt common to our human experience, but felt so much more from those who bear the additional pain of discrimination, for reasons including, but not limited to, race, gender, creed, religion, intelligence, social status, and age. 

 

I decided to continue my prayers outside. I jumped on my bike and stopped to check out a local restaurant to see if it was open. I said to an older man, about my age, who was also checking it out, “I’m glad to see they’re open.” He said, “Yeah, they didn’t shut it down.” I wasn’t so sure whom he meant by “they.” Was it the health authorities, the looters, anarchists, the opportunists, or someone else? I didn’t have to wonder long as the man freely told me whom he meant. It is not fit to print. It was vile, disgusting. I was shocked. Just because he was a white man talking to another white man, did he assume that I was as much of a bigot as he? How dare he!

 

I judged him. (I know; I thought judging others wasn’t one of my problems.) Yet, as he spoke, I realized that he, too, was carrying hurt. He told me that many years ago his father, a liquor store owner, had been robbed. The proprietor was pistol whipped and beaten by three men. The dad was never the same and his son consequently suffered through a lost childhood and apparently continues to suffer to this day. I left wondering, “Now what?” What to do with his and other’s hurts that are at the foundations of this ancient problem of racial hatred? What is God’s answer?

 

As I neared home, I saw a sign, literally. The church down the street is called “Grace Community Church.” I realized, for the first time, that the word, “race” is contained within the word “Grace.” Like all problems that humans can’t solve, God has already solved it. The problem of race (and every other problem) is covered by His grace. 

 

Grace is God’s solution. God sent his Son to die for the sins of the world. But, what do we mere mortals do? Of course, the first step is to accept His free gift, making Jesus the Lord of our lives. Then what? How do we discern God’s solutions for the problem of bigotry? Honestly, I don’t yet know what the solutions are. Therefore, I am going to seek His solutions by opening my eyes, shunning blindness, color or otherwise, and engaging with my brothers and sisters. I am going to continue to walk (and ride my bike) in the light of Christ’s love. On a practical level, I am going to participate in, what Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr. of First Institutional Baptist Church of Phoenix, calls, “courageous conversations” (via Zoom for now, and in the future face-to-face). Our newly hired, incredibly gifted, Region Resource Minister of Urban Ministries, Dr. Tahlib McMicheaux, will be facilitating these conversations. I will listen and learn. I will act. I will, as it is written, in 2 Chronicles, 7:14, humble myself, pray, and turn from my wicked (and insensitive) ways.

 

And, God willing, I will cry.

 

In His Service (and Yours),

Andy 

Date: 
June 7th, 2020