Sharon’s reflections after MLK Day

As I continue to reflect on the recent MLK services, I am reminded once again that racial reconciliation is a process that involves honesty, education, grace, & letting go of systematic and personal power.

During our time in between services, I experienced a handful of honest conversations with my brothers & sisters in the choir. And although some of the conversations were not entirely comfortable or fuzzy feeling, it was SO good not to have to hide. Instead, we engaged with one another as learners & beloved children of God. It was beautiful.

As for where I’m at in the journey, since we’re all family, I’ll be honest… I get tired of feeling like I have to be a “teacher” all the time. I am weary of trying to convince white people that there is a race problem and that not everyone can “pull themselves up by there boot straps”.  It breaks my heart because essentially it feels like outright rejection when my white brothers and sisters don’t acknowledge the problem.  We could learn a lot from each other.

But I’m also hopeful. I’m excited to see our church embrace Gods call to racial reconciliation and healing for as the scriptures contend,

“therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

I really love this verse because it asserts that this is not just man’s agenda but its Gods mandate that we “grow up” & “not down” as we reconcile across ALL sorts of lines – racial lines included.  As reconciliation pioneer, Brenda Salter McNeil puts it,

“We have heard many people say “those things” (slavery, Native American genocide, internment & so on) happened a long time ago. But the passage of time does nothing to forgive sin & heal the wounds caused by it. Only confession, renunciation & the cleansing liberating power of the cross can heal us & free us from the devastating bondage of our past.”

The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change leads to Social Change by Salter McNeil & Richardson

Lord, may you lead us to deeds that you yourself are doing, to your glory & honor. God please lead our souls through this process so that we may lead others well. May we forsake our “bent” positions toward other people. Thank you that you have given all peoples, as beings made in your image, the capacity to participate in your kingdom.


Posted by Aaron Niequist on 01.22.11 under Events, Uncategorized.

6 Responses to “Sharon’s reflections after MLK Day”

  1. Thanks for the wonderful creative arts in championing diversity in our church! You guys did a smashing job in your testimony.

    Posted by Steve on 12/13/09 January 23rd, 2011 at 7:17 pm

  2. I traveled to Willow Creek from Springfield, IL this weekend and was so happy that I did! Harvey Carey was amazing, as he is always is, and the music was truely inspired. Anyway you guys could post a few of the songs you did that weekend? “You are Good” at the end was absolutely amazing. The talent each of you possess is unbelievable and I am thankful that you are using it to inspire and to build God’s kingdom here on earth! Blessings to you all!

    Posted by Stacey on 12/13/09 January 24th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

  3. I am so grateful to each of the artists who shared their stories this weekend, but especially to Sharon, Stephen, and Jimmy…for the courage and transparency with which you opened yourselves so personally & authentically. As a white person, I have never experienced the injustices you spoke of, and as difficult as it was to hear your stories, I am thankful to be part of a church that opens my eyes to the systemic injustice that still pervades our world. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you, and for stirring in my heart a holy discontent I pray will compel me to learn more and do better.

    Posted by Carrie on 12/13/09 February 9th, 2011 at 3:27 pm

  4. I love how this service, as well as the services on 2/26-7 celebrating black history month, is teaching me a deeper understanding of the struggles of our black brothers and sisters. Even though I have considered myself one who endorsees racial reconciliation 100%, I realize I still have a lot to learn about the pain my brothers and sisters endured and continue to endure.

    After each of these services I have been so moved by the Negro spirituals, I want more to continue my worship of what God is doing in our lives. I have search for published Negro spirituals, but have not found songs with the level of passion or talent that our artists have given us in the services. I will be praying that God inspires or talented artists to publish a CD of Negro spirituals.

    Posted by Mike on 12/13/09 February 27th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

  5. thanks so much, Mike. I’m right there with you. Glad to be on the journey together…


    Posted by Aaron Niequist on 12/13/09 March 4th, 2011 at 3:18 am

  6. Is the piece from the beginning of service available on video? (The one that showed personal stories of black individuals experiences vs. white individuals). This was so powerful- I would love to know if it is available to see again. thank you!

    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 June 26th, 2012 at 12:15 am

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