And the Lord said, “Will not God grant justice to God’s chosen ones who cry to God day and night? Will God delay long in helping them? I tell you, God will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
“How would you define right-relationship?” James’s question interrupted my well-planned presentation. My mind went blank and all the ‘correct’ answers faded away as I locked eyes with James McKim, a black leader in the Church’s work of reconciliation. My awareness of white supremacy, the authority I carried as the presenter, and the deeply complicated road we have to right-relationship overcame me. As a white woman, I felt inadequate to try and broach the subject of reconciliation with a black leader.
I ended up offering James a “good-enough” response. I said the life of Jesus of Nazareth shows us a model of right-relationship. The way he engaged with people, interpersonally and societally drew them into right-relationship with one another. When we follow his example we have hope of undoing the systems of inequity that separate us. However, I failed to speak directly to the racism, homophobia or misogyny that plague our society.
I left that presentation at Diocesan Resource Day feeling embarrassed. One of our team members, Jesse, noticed my embarrassment and asked me, “Do you want to practice talking about race?”
Yes, I responded. Yes, I want to practice because this is hard. I want to practice working cooperatively rather than enforcing authority, naming systems that hurt us and seeing people as partners rather than issues. I need to practice living this reconciled life that is inherently counter-cultural to the world in which we live. Yes, I want to practice.