Central States Synod Statement on Racism
The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, and George Floyd have jolted many to action. For more than a week, individuals around the world have taken to the streets to express their pain, anger, and frustration over the dehumanization being experienced by black and brown people due to individual/systemic racism. The anguish endured by people of color in this country because of the actions or inactions of other citizens is real, and it cannot be ignored.
Racism and racist notions have no place in Christianity. They are antithetical to our core beliefs. We believe God made all of humanity in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). We believe Jesus Christ lives in each one of us (1 John 4:13) and tears down the dividing wall of hostility between us (Eph. 2:14). And we believe we are all members of the Body of Christ; hence, “if one member suffers, we all suffer with it”
(1 Cor. 12:26).
Despite our relationship with God, we are sinners. We consciously and unconsciously sin against God and each other in thought, word, and deed. We love neither God nor our neighbor with our whole heart. Instead, we give in to temptation and seek to satisfy our own desires.
The Synod Council of the Central States encourages its congregations and their members to use this time of national self-examination as an opportunity to engage in courageous dialogue to tackle the sinful issue of racism. We invite our faith communities to listen to the experiences and perspectives of those who have endured racism and aggression at the hands of individuals and institutions, including our own ELCA. We also ask members to reflect on what actions they have taken or missed to reduce racism and lift up the dignity of all people.
The Council understands that discussions about race are difficult. Some participants may feel uncomfortable and even vulnerable. But what is hard should not stop us from doing what is right.
The Synod has tools available (https://www.css-elca.org/workshops) to facilitate positive, courageous dialogue. Therefore, we encourage congregations and members to be brave and examine their own attitudes and conduct. Each person, regardless of background or age, can help to advance the eradication of racism, disrupt systemic inequality and inequity, build a more inclusive community, and live out Christ’s teaching to love our neighbor.
Reading for Thursday, July 2
In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s House, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, all all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the Lord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”
Reading for Friday, July 3
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.
Reading for Saturday, July 4
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it. Now, therefore, say to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Thus says the Lord: Look, I am a potter shaping evil against you and devising a plan against you. Turn now, all of you from your evil way, and amend your ways and your doings.
Gospel for Sunday, July 5
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
“But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Adult Bible Study Classes – “On Pause”
Sundays – 9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
We gather in the lounge to study passages from the worship service second readings.
Wednesdays at Noon