In these last few months, as we have struggled with COVID19, people across the world have experienced what it feels like to be constantly vigilant to threats. We have seen other people approaching and feeling ourselves worried that they could endanger us. We have been restricted in what we can do, where we can go, and who we can see. We have worried for the lives of our families and friends. We have felt economic hardship. We have felt the accumulated stress in our bodies, in our dreams, in our moods, and in our relationships.
Yet, this feeling of constant vigilance is only new for some of us. Many people of color have felt the stress of constant vigilance throughout their lives… Wondering if today they will have to withstand more dismissive, belittling, or degrading remarks. Wondering if their simple presence in a neighborhood will lead to a call to the police. Wondering if they will be stopped while doing something perfectly normal. Wondering if their interaction with law enforcement will leave them dead.
It all-too-often leads to death. Even when it does not, this vigilance takes a toll on the body, mind, and soul. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
– Todd Grotenhuis
We have been complicit in the continuation of racial divide. We have contributed to the pain of our Black and Brown sisters and brothers. We listen but we don’t hear. We name the need for change, but we don’t do the work. We contribute to the pain of generations by our assumptions, our trite words, our fragility and our privilege.
– Mary Liechty
I have lived most of my life in a white bubble. Learning about racial injustices always got me fired up in a cerebral way growing up, but I never felt it in the marrow of my bones on a daily basis. I never asked my friends of color how I could walk beside them or what their experiences might be like. I never sought out resources or educated myself on racial injustice in immediate, tangible ways. That time is over. I now strive to live my life and raise my family in an ANTI-RACIST fashion. This means using my voice, my resources, my social connections, my job, and my white privilege to NAME white supremacy and actively work to dismantle it. It is uncomfortable, overwhelming at times, and there is ALWAYS more to know. I am learning to embrace this discomfort, lick my privileged wounds, and move forward. Doing nothing, or just feeling sad, is no longer palatable.
– Carla Schmid
A call to action
If we at First Mennonite Church Indianapolis want to be Christ…ians, we need to teach what Jesus taught and model our lives after how Jesus lived his life. White supremacy and racism maintains that people of color are inferior to white people and don’t deserve to have equal roles, resources or opportunities in American society. This is the polar opposite of what Jesus taught when he was on earth. Jesus didn’t spend his time and energy trying to accumulate power and wealth; neither did he attempt to exert his will or control over others. Jesus taught that the last- the oppressed, the weak and the poor- shall be first, and the first- the powerful and the rich- shall be last. This suggests that not only did Jesus favor justice and equality for people of color, but that he favored positions of power for them. To walk in the path of Jesus, white Christians must be in the forefront of helping to create a societal structure in America that provides for an equal sharing of power, resources and opportunities with people of color. This is a challenge for white American Christians, as it is never easy to let go of power and resources you already have in your possession. Yet, this giving away, this giving up for the benefit of others, is the way of Christ, the way of the cross.
– Paul Hartman
May we learn to listen and be present with those who are speaking their stories, recognizing the complexity of each individual.
May we fully receive the anger, frustration and sadness that we must hear.
May we respond in ways that both amplify Black and Brown voices and challenge white voices when they excuse or deflect the daily violence perpetrated on people of color.
May we reject leaders who incite hatred through the language of violence.
May we recognize the trajectory of racial inequity in this country and beyond.
May we insist on systemic change.
May we own and name the bias in ourselves and speak it, every day.
In Jesus name.
– Mary Liechty
We are excited to share that we are again trying a new way of gathering together via the internet for this Sunday’s morning worship service. At 9:30 AM, we will worship via video conference call so we can see and hear each other as we worship together. Please check your email for the invitation.
1 Samuel 16:1-13 (NRSV)
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
John 9 (NRSV)
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Exodus 3:1-10 (NRSV)
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Show Us Living Water
John 4:1-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is
making and baptizing more disciples than John” —although it was not
Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and
started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came
to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob
had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired
out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give
me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The
Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of
me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with
Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and
who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked
him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to
him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get
that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave
us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said
to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but
those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.
The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water
gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this
water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to
FIRST MENNONITE CHURCH will be hosting Indiana-Michigan Conference Annual Sessions June 14-16, 2018. Our theme is “Offering Ourselves to God’s Renewing” engaging multiple spiritual practices. This conference will be represented by about 50 churches and as always promotes peace and justice.
Thank you for your prayers toward this gathering. We hope to have more volunteers to help with multiple tasks and welcome your help and hands and spirit. Reach out to the staff, here at First Mennonite Church and see how you can be of service.
In light of the hatred that is coming out into the light in our country we want to share this resource from the Southern Poverty Law Center on how we can respond to hate. Please take some time to study and share this document. As we try to Listen to Love – and specifically Listen to Ourselves – think about the spiritual and physical work we need to do to make drive hate out of our city and our nation.
To download the PDF document in it’s entirety click on this link. If you’d prefer, you can access the document in web form from the Southern Poverty Law Center at https://www.splcenter.org/20170814/ten-ways-fight-hate-community-response-guide.
A welcoming faith community committed to:
- Making peace
- Seeking justice
- Serving as the hands, heart and voice of Christ