Pastoral Letter on Racial Justice

Beloved Ones, 

 

We are living in a historic time. Not only are we several months into a Pandemic, with all of the anxiety, fear, and changes that that brings, we now find our society coming to terms with systemic racism with a fresh intensity. 

 

Our teacher, Jesus Christ, was known for listening to the stories of marginalized people. He was known for crying out for justice, working to change oppressive systems, and uniting people together to bring about a new way of being in relationship with one another. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was interested in the particularities of people’s stories and also the collective ways in which society undercuts people’s dignity and justice. I implore you to consider the individual stories of microaggression or brutality that have been a part of the lives of so many People of Color. Consider also the ways in which the systems that we’ve built in the United States of America have created scaffolds of injustice and oppression. As followers of Christ, we are asked to stand in solidarity with those who are weighed down by injustice, longing for liberation. To be a Christian is to participate in the collective liberation of all God’s people. 

 

In this moment, as the issues of racism in America and police brutality are being amplified, I hope that you will join me in prayer and action as we seek to participate in building the Kingdom of God-- in which mercy, justice, dignity, and compassion abound. 

 

If you are looking for ways to be involved in the anti-racist movement, consider the following:

 

Educate yourself:

It is important that we take it upon ourselves to learn the history of systemic racism in the United States. It is not the job of our friends of color to educate us. 

Here are two excellent books and two excellent movies to start you on your journey:

 

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow 

https://newjimcrow.com/about/buy

 

Austin Channing Brown’s I’m Still Here

http://austinchanning.com/the-book

 

Just Mercy (watch it for free below)

https://www.justmercyfilm.com/

 

Selma (rent below)

https://www.amazon.com/Selma-David-Oyelowo/dp/B00S0X4HK8

 

Pray:

Spend time in deep prayer. Ask for God’s grace, justice, and love to flow down. Ask for guidance as you do what you can in the circles you are a part of. 

 

Here is a simple prayer to get you started: 

Holy God, 

I ask that you give me the faith to know that I am beloved and that everyone else is too. Help me to stand up for your beloved ones, seeking justice in this very moment. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

Shop from Black-Owned Businesses:

When we purchase from black owned businesses, we directly support the dignity and entrepreneurship of People of Color.

 

If you are looking to purchase a book to read during quarantine, try one of these black owned independent bookstores:

https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/?fbclid=IwAR1hisJ3keYvAlMSEJq2a-moDToqY5hfOLRMKTbG-tc0Nu-du8iEiCpKiHA

 

Here are 18 black owned restaurants in Boston that will do takeout or delivery:

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/black-owned-restaurants-boston/

 

Speak truth to those in your circles:

Sometimes the work of racial justice can feel overwhelming. Start with where you are and have faith that God can use you in the circles you are a part of. Start with investigating and deconstructing your own understanding of race and your own implicit biases (we all have them!). Be humble. Listen to People of Color. 

 

Then, talk with your circles. Your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors are spheres that you can influence positively. For example, call out race-based jokes as not being funny and explain why. Bring up systemic racism and have conversations with the people in your life who will listen to you. Have the courage to have these hard conversations, over and over. 

 

Please know that I am here to pray with you and talk more with you about how we each confront the issues of racism in our society and how we can, in this moment, be in solidarity with People of Color, who are crying out for justice. 

 

Abundant Blessings, 

 

Rev. Megan Snell

Pastor, The Nahant Village Church

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