“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:20
As we celebrate Black History Month, I wonder, how do we appropriately honor our black sisters and brothers, especially amidst so much hate in our world? It’s an enormous task to think about righting centuries of injustice and opening our eyes to realities beyond our imagination. Where do we even begin?
I think of my own journey and how impactful people of color have been in my life, teaching me realities that weren’t in my history books, and that often aren’t shared by black people for fear of repercussions. I think of my beautiful black friends whose lives have had such a powerful impact on my faith journey, as together we discovered that our commonality in our faith far outweighs any differences we might find in our lives. I think of the pain that has existed in their lives, and I want to wipe away their tears and find a way to bring them joy and peace.
I think of my newfound black and white sisters in my Be the Bridge group. Be the Bridge is a book, a small group curriculum and a movement to empower people and culture towards racial healing, equity and reconciliation.
Our group, facilitated by Kim Alexander (member of our Board of Advisors and a former member of our Board of Directors) and Michele Dudley (our founder), is comprised of 10 women of color and 10 white women. We have wrestled with tough issues and truths, opening our eyes and hearts to different perspectives, and building beautiful friendships along the way. Many of our black sisters came into the group tired of talking about race. Initially, I was surprised by this fact, thinking they would be eager to vent and share their frustrations. But they live it every day, and the incidents of the past months with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others have drained their energy, understandably. Yet, they joined the group anyway, willing to help our group of white women learn more about their history and plight. Even while meeting over Zoom instead of in person, it’s been amazing to see these 20 women of faith come together, amidst frustrations and uncertainties, ultimately finding commonalities we never would have expected. It’s been pure joy to be with this group of women.
As our group wrapped up our 14-week journey, we focused on 2 Corinthians 5:14-21, about our being reconciled to God through Christ, and being called into the ministry of reconciliation with others. “All of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ…We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.”
How might we better understand the nature of reconciliation in this passage, as being reconciled back to God first? When we are reconciled with God, loving and forgiving one another becomes much easier. How might God use each of us to “make his appeal” for reconciliation? How can we take what we’ve learned out into the world as Christ’s ambassadors? What are our next steps?
We are encouraged by As We Forgive, a movie on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and how the Hutus and Tutsis have worked towards forgiveness and reconciliation. Their bravery is inspiring, and I know if they can walk this walk, we can too. What can we learn from our Rwandan brothers and sisters?
Rabbi Rami Shapiro once paraphrased from the book of Micah and the Talmud, saying, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
This quote gives us a clear and easy answer to our involvement in racial (and all forms of) reconciliation. We aren’t obligated to “complete the work” of making peace on Earth (or in our nation) a reality on our own, but neither are we free to abandon the work. What a gift that we can trust that God is in charge! But as we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, we are called to take at least one simple step to bring healing.
It’s Black History Month, and God calls us to be ambassadors of reconciliation.
To take just one simple step.
What will yours be?
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
~ Micah 6:8
Here are some simple steps to celebrate Black History month:
- Visit a Black history or Civil Rights museum
- Trace your family history
- Spend time with a Black elder or friend
- Read a book by a Black author
- Attend a Black culture event in your community
- Learn about an unsung hero of Black history
- Explore Black music
- Call out racism and prejudice in your community
- Engage in healthy conversations about Black history
- Visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in DC (a personal favorite)
- Start your own Be the Bridge group