“Spreading Joy and Connections” has been a tagline for Lent this year. Over the past weeks, you all have cared for one another, made one another laugh, and been incredibly thoughtful in lifting one another up.
As we continue to spread joy and connections, my heart is also saddened and grieved for the shootings in Atlanta and what has been described and catalogued in the Bay Area for the past year as a rise in hate crimes against our community members who are of Asian descent.
We are a church of welcome and we proclaim that welcome loudly every Sunday, on our signage, and our website. And also, friends, it is in times like these where loving communities need to stand up, show up, and speak out against hatred and racism with even more powerful acts of love.
Depending on how you identify or relate to this situation, whether you have been a victim of racist violence, hatred, stereo-typing, exclusion, off-handed or pointed comments, whether you know well the feeling of being targeted because of who you are or who you love, please know that this congregation wants to be a place where people are supported, cared for, where you have space to grieve, be left alone, or be angry.
So, I encourage us all to reach out with love, check especially on those who are of Asian descent in our congregation, in our neighborhoods, in our families. Asians are not a monoculture, and no one is being asked to speak for everyone, but I am instead encouraging us simply to be more aware, to listen to one another and learn. I know I have been ignorant to the struggles of my dear friends and congregation members this past year who are of Asian descent, and I am eager to learn how to be a better pastor and friend.
1 John 4 says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear… Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their siblings, are liars; for those who do not love a sibling whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. “
These verses from 1 John are both a powerful encouragement and a powerful reminder that self-reflection and action, being willing to care for one another, is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. So let us continue to grow in our love and respect for one another; for those of us who are hurting, we pray for others to come alongside and be present. For those of us who are unaware, we pray for learning and personal growth. And, we pray that we may be empowered by the witness of those amongst us to be a congregation and church that embodies diversity and inclusion.
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