Wisdom on Race

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!” (Matthew 7:24-27)

These concluding words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount summarize that momentous sermon with a memorable word-picture that leads us to ponder the foundation of our life. The key to having a firm foundation is not only hearing the words of Jesus but, even more, acting on the words of Jesus. Following Jesus in our actions.

At the Virginia Conference Bishop’s Convocation on Religion and Race, held Saturday, April 14, at Annandale UMC, the keynote speaker alluded to this image. Updating Jesus’ language, Rev. Romal Tune raised the question of what happens if we build our house on a landfill. He imagined that such a house would not be a healthy place to live. It sparked in me an “aha” moment. If our society, or our personal worldview, or our church, has been built on a foundation that is tainted with racialized divisions and animosity, then isn’t it like our house is built on a landfill? We will not be healthy until we dig down deep, clean it up, and replace the garbage with a solid Rock.

At the National Council of Churches’ Rally to End Racism, held in Washington D.C., April 4, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, the organizers also echoed these words of Jesus about taking action. The Rally was called “A.C.T. Now: Unite to End Racism.” Dozens of denominations came together that day to launch a movement to focus on bringing Dr. King’s dream into reality. The rally cry of the day focused on the need to move our church life from words and good intentions into real actions. The “A.C.T.” part of the title is an acronym that stands for Awaken, Confront, and Transform. These three actions lay out a plan that can be used to guide us in how to move from dream to reality.

I strongly encourage all of the Alexandria District churches to check out these resources, RomalTune.com  & Act to End Racism both of which have been held recently in our own backyards. They seem to be excellent tools for helping us to get to the bottom of our continuing racial separation and find the way toward a more healthy life of racial reconciliation in our congregations. Please let me know how this important Gospel-centered work is going in your place, and how I can help.

Grace and Peace,