Valarie Englert, Senior Pastor

A frequent starting point for me when writing is a story: some memory or everyday experience to help make what follows relatable or relevant (or both, on a good day).

In these days following the abuse and murder of George Floyd, there is no little tale with which to begin.

Mr. Floyd’s horrific story has unfolded before our eyes onscreen. We have heard some of the profoundly sad words of that story:

“please let me stay here …” 

“I can’t breathe …” 

The violent, intentional force exerted on Mr. Floyd by a white police officer – all the more awful because of its quietness – places the abuse of power that is white privilege front and center.

Any person who claims to love God-in-Christ cannot be silent.

For all who love Christ are called to a vastly different understanding of power. Not only are we to understand power differently, we are called to live the practice of our God-given power differently.
What is unfolding before us is a monumental clash of two universes.  In which one do we live?
On the one hand, there is a universe based on hierarchy and inequity in which the lightest skinned people call the shots; a toxic, misaligned world in which violence bubbles up all too frequently.

In such a universe, persons of color pay the price over and over.
And then there is God’s kingdom: a universe created by a loving God who calls the powerful to give up that power out of love and care for the diverse world God has created.

Let us consider for a moment the values of God’s kingdom:

* The first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Mark 10.31)

* Don’t compete to sit at the head of the banquet table (Luke 14.11)

* Everyone gets paid an equal wage in God’s vineyard (Matthew 20)

* God’s power shows forth in what is considered shameful by the world (I Corinthians 1.28)

* God-in-Christ empties himself, taking the form of a slave (Philippians 2.6-8)

* Following in the Way of Christ leads all believers to the Cross, and to death of self (Matthew 10.38-39)

What God values will clash with the values of white privilege and the abuse of power every time.

We are called to cry out “I can’t breathe” with the George Floyds of the world, especially if we benefit from the system of white privilege.
We cry out “I can’t breathe” not because we feel sympathy for Mr. Floyd and countless others like him, but because our privilege must be given up and put to death.

We must walk the Way of the Cross.
No more. No less.

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