Pursuing the work of antiracism

How do we become an antiracist church?

For the past month, Church of the Incarnation has been talking about racism and what a faithful Christian response is to the systemic racism in our country. This past Sunday, we talked about our Rule of Life and how the work of becoming antiracist is a spiritual practice that fits well within the faithful practice of our Rule. Here are the notes from our conversation, along with some resources that we talked out.

Starting on July 12, 2020, we will host a 6-week study on the book, “America’s Original Sin,” by the Rev. Jim Wallis. To allow for as many people as possible to join us, we will start at 11:30am (CDT) and will plan to be finished by 12:45pm. You can purchase the book now from your favorite book seller. The free study guide is included at the bottom of this page, along with a short video about the content of the book. Stay tuned for more info on how to sign up.

The Incarnation Rule of Life includes the spiritual practices of:

  • Daily prayer
  • Daily confession of sin
  • Daily scripture reading
  • Regular study that brings you closer to God
  • Weekly participation in worship
  • Weekly observance of the sabbath
  • Service to the Church
  • Service to the world

Together, this Rule is the backbone of a faith that is not just professed but also practiced.

What does it mean to be antiracist? 

According to Ibram X. Kendi, in “How to be Antiracist,”

  • The word ‘racist’ isn’t a slur, it’s a descriptive term used to describe actions and policies that favor one race over another
  • The opposite of racist isn’t “not racist,” but antiracist
  • Because of the deeply embedded history of racism in America, there is no such thing as being “not racist”–you either practice racism or you practice antiracism. “One either endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist” (Kendi).

In order to be an antiracist church, we must practice antiracism, not just say we “aren’t racist.”

Being antiracist is a spiritual practice and our Rule of Life can help. We can:

  • Pray that the Holy Spirit will change our hearts, change our unjust systems, and guide all our efforts
  • Repent of our own racism and renounce the unjust systems that many of us disproportionately benefit from
  • Read scripture that reveals God’s continual solidarity with the poor and the marginalized, from the prophets to the gospel
  • Study black theology, the theology of oppression, the Church’s role in working for antiracist policies, and learn how to be part of real change
  • Worship with people who affirm God’s presence with those who suffer and hold your own religious communities accountable for their ministries to the poor and the oppressed
  • Observe a day of rest where your principle identity is as a member of the household of God rather than in an economy that depends on the exploitation of others
  • Push, pull, and lead the Church into a new way of being the Church–one that rejects religious nationalism and seeks to serve Jesus Christ in all persons as a moral conviction and a call from God
  • Serve those who are suffering and advocate for real change using the gifts and resources God has given you

Ibram X. Kendi says this about being antiracist: “like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.”

What is your dream for Church of the Incarnation as we pursue this work together? How is God calling you, personally, to be involved in building an antiracist church and an antiracist society?

Here are some resources that I am using to continue make the work of antiracism part of my spiritual practice.

How to be Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi

America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis comes with a very challenging 6-week study guide to help congregations educate themselves so they can pursue effective change.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting people across the country to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. You can take action, here.

 

 

Rooted and Growing with the Incarnation Community: A Guest Post by Community Builder, Christine Havens

Experience is at the heart of incarnation—being bodily creatures living in God’s creation as members of a vast community in which we interact on so many levels. We connect, we produce, we emote, we reason. We are invited into life.

Incarnation is a community rooted in the incarnation–that is, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension–of Jesus Christ. Christus Pantocrator -(Cathedral of Cefalù, c. 1130.)

By nature, I am a wanderer and a wonderer, thriving on experiencing the transcendent in the mundane. My head, and heart, are often in the clouds; I tend to live in my head much of the time. This is one of the main reasons I am a member of the Incarnation Community Building Team, and look forward to being a full-fledged parishioner of the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation when we begin public worship in 2020. This small and diverse group of people keeps me grounded and keeps my heart in the clouds. I’m also a writer and a poet; if I tend toward grandiosity in this reflection, please forgive and know that it comes from a place of joy in where God has brought me.

Gathered in prayer, we follow a Rule of Life as a way of practicing our faith and growing into the full stature of Christ.

This past Sunday, we met as usual in the home of our vicar, the Rev. Brin Bon. Her husband hosted us since Brin was visiting family. One of our members led us in the Daily Office—Morning Prayer: Rite II from the Book of Common Prayer. We did a semi-brief scripture study on the lesson from the Gospel According to Luke; following our worship, one of the members shared her spiritual autobiography, which sparked further conversation about living a rule of life. Several members expressed gratitude for the rule that the Incarnation community has developed; it’s made a difference in the way they experience the spiritual and the secular parts of life.

For part of the time, I lay stretched out on the floor of the living room (it’s my favorite learning posture), listening to the others as they shared their thoughts on scripture. Yes, a part of me was using their words as stepping stones to the high, wild places, but in those particular moments I was also quite literally on the ground, enjoying the warmth found in a community such as Incarnation—a warmth that feels like an embrace of invisible arms or an enfolding of wings.

Who can say what a transcendent and invisible God looks like? At Incarnation, God is revealed in community, prayer, and scripture and is at the heart of everything we do.

The conversation about a rule of life flowed into other subjects, especially when someone asked me how my writing was going—a very dangerous thing to do when there’s a time limit for the meeting. It’s like unleashing a dog in a park full of squirrels. The generosity of listening and conversation as I explored the possibilities of what I’m working on and a project I’d like to do, also gave me roots and a trellis on which to grow. Being in such a community of creative people is a gift beyond measure. Writing, for me, is a solitary activity that still requires a corporate space in which to germinate ideas and the soul—Incarnation is such a place.

Incarnation is at the heart of experiencing the spiritual together. Each of us, in this small yet growing community, is invited into the transcendent moments as we worship God and God’s incarnate son, Jesus Christ. You are invited, too, into this community of creativity and inspiration. Come, be rooted and grow with us.

The Incarnation community is one rooted in the ancient practices of the Christian faith and growing into the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ, still today.