But what is so tragic and deeply troubling is the long litany of many many others who came before them. Starting right before I was born with Emmet Till in 1955 and Medgar Evers in 1963. And before that the countless public lynchings, often sponsored by Christian Churches who sold tickets and organized picnics for the executions.
Missing the mark
The best Biblical definition of sin is “missing the mark.” As Christians, as followers of Jesus, we are sin confessors. There are of course many ways we miss the mark in our private and public lives.
But today we need to reflect on and confess to how we have missed the mark and are still missing the mark in speaking out against racism and working for its decline.
Ultimately I can only speak for myself, and whenever I preach, I am always preaching to myself. To do otherwise strikes me as both self-righteous and arrogant. So today I confess I have missed the mark on racism. I have not spoken out enough nor done enough. And that is what we as Christians call sin. It is what I call my sin.
Persevering on the hard things
I have been a pastor for 38 years, and I can tell you the hardest thing for a congregation to do is work continuously and consistently and tirelessly on social change, institutional injustices.
It takes a million times more perseverance and work than for example feeding hungry people. And it is a million times more complicated and frustrating than serving a meal or providing shelter or clothing.
Which is why we often give up or slow down. Or even worse, never even try. We miss the mark. We sin.
Despite these challenges, our Race Task Force has been working steadily and faithfully for the last 4 years, speaking out and planning numerous events that have significantly impacted our community.
Being doers, here
Our Session last year voted and made a promise to work on alleviating racism in our society. We haven’t done much so far. But we have been working on a few things. We will do better.
Let’s make a solemn vow to miss the mark less.
I hope you join me in expressing outrage and concern to all the people in Greensboro whose property and businesses have been looted, damaged, and even destroyed. This also is missing the mark and never an acceptable form of protest.
We must also lift our voices in prayer for all the people in the world who are suffering from COVID-19. In Brazil one person is dying every minute.
And people in Greensboro are hungry, and hunger is a horrible thing. Not to feed hungry people is also a sin. So I want to enthusiastically thank all the people who showed up on Wednesday to collect food for Urban Ministry. 668 pounds were collected. Here we did not miss the mark.
We will do it again this Wednesday from 10 to 6. As I can hear my great friend Hoke Huss say, let’s make it 700 pounds this Wednesday! You can sign up to take a 2-hour slot to greet people who are dropping off food.
God Bless You all, you beautiful people, who I have loved for 17 years now and will always love. Amen.