"I can't breathe." These are words that rumble in my heart, mind, and soul.
Pentecost is the time when we remember and retell the stories of God's spirit, which yearns to fill us to overflowing with inclusive love, which we witness in Jesus the Christ. Pentecost, the breath of God, in the beginning, breathed life into all of creation, continues to breathe life from all corners of the globe.
"I can't breathe."
I have had bronchitis and pneumonia, and so I know what it feels like to think that I can't breathe, but I could breathe. As a mom of a young child who frequently had bronchial asthma, I know the panic of a parent when their child is struggling for breath while medication begins to work. As I remember those moments, the words "I can't breathe" become visceral, and a divine voice says remember some people feel like that every day of their life. That's what's important to see, know and respond to. As Barack Obama says, “The waves of protest represent a genuine and legitimate frustration…The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation.”
In our faith tradition we remember that Jesus teaches us that love=justice. Racism is injustice. The change we long to see in the world arrives one conversation, one action, at a time.
There is always something we can do to sustain the momentum for real change.
Pause, breathe, give thanks for the gift of breath, now, remember times in your life when you spoke out for equity and just relationships. Maybe you challenged a racist joke, remember the courage that helped you speak. Maybe there was a moment when you realized what you thought was a harmless kids rhyme was teaching children racism. Remember the shift that happened in your thinking. Maybe you were involved with calling for institutional reforms, again connect with the passion. Remembering the courage, the shift, and the passion of past actions is energy for what is needed now. Racism is changed one conversation, one action, one commitment at a time. What is your concrete action? Whatever action you choose; it is enough.
This morning as I was writing content for a new AVUC brochure and website. I remembered that together as Church, a Community of Faith, we have not remained silent in the face of injustice, and we will continue to speak and breathe life where we are.
This morning I wrote:
"AVUC is a progressive and affirming community of faith within the United Church of Canada. We affirm that gender and sexuality are gifts of God, and welcome people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We draw strength and hope from biblical stories of liberation; from the call to live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God; and from Jesus' witness to God's inclusive love.
We are Christ centred and Spirit-guided on a journey of co-creating with God.
We are leaning into paradigms, patterns, which we think are expressions of Christ teaching that Love=justice.
We are Public, Intentional and Explicit allies. Our practice of allying looks like this: as of June 2015 AVUC started flying the Pride Flag 365 days a year, Celebrate Pride Movie Series, Allyship Workshops, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Celebrate Pride Sunday, co-hosting The Art of Hosting and Decolonizing practices trainings and a Road to Reconciliation monthly circle.
We have been practicing being reconciling, and it's hard, uncomfortable, complicated, and sometimes rough waters and there are profound holy moments when we see the face of Jesus in each other, offering the best we can at this moment."
May our collective action fill you with hope. With God, with love, with justice, one action, one conversation, one prayer at a time, nothing is impossible, everything is possible.
The firey, feisty, Spirit of God breathes life into us. May that life-giving Spirit of life soothe your already COVID 19 weary bodies and move through you in the shape of courageous love in action.