About a week ago, Isabella and I were coloring in a Bible coloring book and she asked for the pink marker because she wanted to color Jesus’ skin. I asked if Jesus’ skin color could be brown and she said no. We launched into a beautiful and awkward conversation about skin color. Did God make people with pink skin and black skin? Yes.
I could have left it at that, but I knew it was my responsibility as her mother to start to tell her what kind of world we’re actually living in. “There are times when people don’t like someone else just because their skin is a different color.” She said, “but God loves all the colors.”
Yes, God does love all the colors…. And I had no idea what else to say.
This week we mourn the lives of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Lorne Ahrens.
There are many things I could say right now. I could repeat my entire message from early May on white privilege. That as as long as we can choose not to pay attention, we have privilege. Or we could talk about the time Jesus healed a man blind from birth. Jesus helped him really see. And that Jesus is willing to do the same for us. Or we could talk about how everyday things can heal like honest conversation, building new relationships, deep listening, letting go of assumptions, being curious. But we’ve already talked about those things.
So today I want us to do two things. First, I want us to lament. Lament is a long biblical tradition of prayer that includes expressions of complaint, anger, grief, despair and protest to God. Many of us have never been taught this way of praying. Instead we were taught to praise God, but not to protest. To petition God, but not interrogate. But God can handle our lament.
Lament is a place to begin to respond to sin, evil, brokenness and the complexity of what it means to be human beings. It’s tempting to jump to problem-solving but our work is in vain if we don’t first lament.
Secondly, we can certainly keep holding prayer vigils. Prayer always helps ground us in God’s reality. But prayer alone is not acceptable anymore. Our prayers shape and prepare us for action.
If you would like to be a part of conversations about reconciliation in our town, please leave a note on the bulletin insert today. We’ll gather on an evening in August to pray, dream and wonder about what God could do through us. Several other churches are interested in partnering together to see what we could do together. Even if it’s simply to gather, share stories and truly listen to people in our community, that is a holy step towards welcoming God’s kingdom in this place.
So there you go my friends. Lament and talk about it. Talk about racism with your family today. Talk about privilege. Bring it into the light. That’s how we dismantle evil. Light is greater than darkness.
As our kids remind us, “God loves all the colors.” Until everyone in the world knows that too, our work continues. Amen.