Across the Pastor’s Desk: A time to listen and a time to learn
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Josh Enderson
Our state and our country have been shaken since the death of George Floyd. Once again, we have been reminded of the systemic racism built into our country, a truth that we have to acknowledge. At the same time, we have also been shocked by the destruction that has happened in response.
In the midst of it all, I know that I have found myself falling back on that verse from Romans, at a loss for words to pray, and just hoping that the Holy Spirit will know what words to pray at this time.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
In the swirl of it all, we pray for God’s Spirit to come.
On Sunday, May 31, the church celebrated Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the church, burning away its fear and pushing it forward in love and grace into a new future, a future in which all people are cherished in God’s sight. The church was sent out with a message for all people, regardless of who they are.
The message that this Spirit called on the disciples to proclaim was one of love, not of fear and violence. It is one that we are called to proclaim once again, as those of us in the white majority have to do the hard and difficult work of listening and learning from our black, indigenous and people of color sisters and brothers; and then to act together in making this world a safe and equal place.
That is the beloved kingdom of God that Jesus was bringing to earth, and that’s the kingdom that the Spirit is working to bring about. How can we take part in that work? Really, seriously, take part in that work?
We are living through a time of great uncertainty, and in these difficult times it might seem easier to just go for the easy route, to pretend that racism is not a problem, or that it doesn’t exist around us. It does. And we have to deal with it.
And, we also recognize the fear that the scenes of destruction on TV bring to is. But, we’re not in this alone. God’s Spirit is “helping us in our weakness.”
We have God’s word to guide us, a word we can open up and read, and find words of guidance and hope for a better future.
But, above all, we are called to dialogue and listen right now. And when we don’t know what to say or what to pray, that’s OK. Because this is a time of confusion for us all. But God is with us. God’s Spirit is here, “with sighs too deep for words.”
Josh Enderson is a pastor at Hayward and Trondhjem Lutheran churches.