Listen, Lament, Learn & Love

Listen, Lament, Learn & Love

Published June 3, 2020

Trinity Sunday/June 3, 2020

Just these lines, my friends …

to say that the murder of George Floyd, following a long list of unjust deaths of so many black women and men, rips back the veil yet again – assuring us that racism, our malignant cancer, remains powerful and deadly. In our Sunday, May 31 reading of Acts 2, we saw Pentecost’s visible manifestation. We saw the Holy Spirit’s explosive creativity in fashioning what would have seemed impossible: a new community where all ethnic and human barriers were torn apart; where those who were previously at odds were joined together in God’s new creation. This is the Church’s story. This is our story.

The murder of George Floyd is a grievous wound to the Floyd family, and yet another vicious wound to the Black community. The murder of George Floyd is also a wound to the Church. The Holy Spirit has made us one. The Holy Spirit has destroyed ethnic superiority and powers (in our history – white superiority and power). When we repent of our racist history and of the racial violence manifested in social structures, we are repenting, as the Church, that we are not being who God has made us to be. We repent of how we have been living by the old story instead of the Spirit’s new creation story.

Church, we must be who we are. We must, by God’s mercy.

As someone who loves and follows Jesus, I can simultaneously say that I love and appreciate police officers and those who serve and protect our communities, and that the killing of George Floyd is a horrific wrong that has been done – not only once, but over and over again – and something must change.

I am sorry for the ways I’ve been part of the problem and for all the things that I still can’t see. I’m praying for God’s love and goodness and righteousness and justice to come.

But naming the problem is not enough. If we only preach sermons and write social media posts without moving towards concrete action requiring the use of our “bodies, ballots and bucks,” we are no better than the persons to whom Dr. King wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”

Therefore, as your pastor, I want to invite you to join me in the following acts:

  • First, listen. Listen to the cries of our brothers and sisters of color. Their pain is real and it deserves to be heard.
  • Second, lament. Lament the state of things. Lament senseless and needless use of police brutality. Lament rampant and divisive racism.
  • Third, learn. Learn about the impact of systemic racism. Learn about white privilege and its impact on why things are the way they are. The reality is, we are a predominately white United Methodist Church. We do have members that are people of color, and they can feel marginalized, even in our midst. I invite you to learn about white privilege. I strongly encourage every Sunday School class or small group to read at least one of the these suggestions together: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo,Embrace by LeRoy Barber, Roadmap for Reconciliation by Brenda Salter McNeil, America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis, Anxious to Talk About It by Carolyn B. Helsel, The Myth of Equality by Ken Wytsma, and a book I read last year with all of my children, White Picket Fencesby Amy Julia Becker.
  • Finally, love. Put your love in action by visiting the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, as well as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, NC. Put your love into action by making a commitment to call your elected officials to support better policy that includes criminal justice reform and end voter suppression. Put your love into action by joining our Bridge Builders Fellowship here at the Church. This is our anti-racism community shared jointly with Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.

Friends, none of this is easy work but it is necessary work. It is time for white people to boldly call for an end to individual and systemic racism. Until we rid our world of racism and heal together from its long-lasting effects, the arc of the moral universe will not yet have bent towards justice, and we will not be living into the Beloved Community our Merciful and Just Creator desires for all of us. This work requires us to hear critique both as individuals and as a church without being defensive. It is work that requires commitment for the long haul. It is work that we must enter into with both courage and humility, but it is essential work. It is gospel good news work.

I’d also like to ask you to read a powerful statement from our District Superintendent, Rev. David Hockett. You can read it here.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Couple of Things for Your Calendar

I’d love for you to take advantage of the following:

  • COVID Conversation #1 on June 16, 7 pm: In the months ahead, we are planning a series of online community conversations about the pandemic. Our first one is titled, “Lessons We are Learning from the Virus.” You can find more information here.
  • Pandemic Resiliency Videos: Rev. Bill Roth and Lauren Smith have produced a series of wonderful videos that I find so helpful in these days of pandemic. Both Bill and Laura are a part of the staff community of Myers Park United Methodist Church. Bill is one of the pastors, and Lauren is the Parish Nurse. I’m excited to tell you that Bill has lived in my neighborhood, Matthews Plantation, for 20 years. His son & daughter-in-law, Errett and Jordan, live in Brightmoor and are wonderful participants in the life of MUMC. Lauren, her husband John, and their three boys – Jackson, Evan and Brady – are right in the middle of all things MUMC. You can find more information on how you can view these helpful, healing videos here.

This Sunday (June 7) in Worship

In preparation for worship this week, please have your candle ready to light, as well as elements for Holy Communion.

I want you to know what an honor it is to lead a community of such hardworking, adaptive, dedicated and kind staff. I am amazed to see the ways that your pastors, ministry leaders and all our staff community are finding ways to keep us connected as we Reach, Teach, Praise and Serve in this time of fasting from physically gathering.

I am so pleased to announce that Bishop Paul Leeland has appointed all your pastors to return in service to this amazing, vibrant fellowship: Roldan Flores (beginning his 9th year), Corey Milliet (6th year), Brad Hopper (16th year), Paul Craig (15th year) and yours truly, Chuck Wilson (5th year).

I can’t wait for Sunday when we will gather online at 9:30 am and 11:00 am (click here). My sermon is titled “God’s Way of Forgiveness” from Genesis 37:18-28.

Remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.

We Are in this Together,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II

Did you know that Pastor Brad participated in the “It Ends Now” gathering in uptown Charlotte on Sunday to praise God and to protest racial injustice? Several thousand people of faith from varying denominational and racial backgrounds participated in this event.

Did you know that over 450 note cards were written by MUMC friends this week for one of our own, Maggie Johnson, who is serving as a nurse at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, NY?  She is distributing the notes to all the staff at the hospital to lift their spirits with love and encouragement. Thank you to the Family Covenant Class, the Faith Class, our youth, our MUMC friends and our friends at Rainbow Ministries for writing these cards.

Did you know that your Global Impact dollars are at work?!

  • A financial donation was made to Second Harvest Food Bank to be used for additional food. This organization provides food for over 800 partner agencies and serves a 34-county area.
  • A financial donation was made to COSKids for construction of a canopy to replace one destroyed in the February tornado. The structure will provide outdoor learning space and help meet new social distancing guidelines. This organization nurtures families by providing educational, financial and spiritual support.
  • Global Impact distributed 75 masks to members of our community. Rainbow Express Ministry friends continue to make sandwiches for Roof Above (formerly Urban Ministries/Men’s Shelter of Charlotte). Some of our masks were taken to Roof Above, along with the sandwiches.

Did you know that a regional Ford Mustang club (led by Church members John and Anissa Millen) put together a food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank on Saturday, May 30?  Nearly 20 Ford Mustangs were filled with food convoyed to Second Harvest. So much food, but so much need. The line was several blocks long in the need of food.