All Things New
I hope by now that many of you have at least heard about, if not read, some form of the article published by the Associated Press concerning our relationship with our friends and neighbors at the First Baptist Church on New St. A shorter version of it was included in the Telegraph, but the longer form was published on the AP website and other outlets, including the New York Times. I’d encourage you to find the longer form, if you haven’t already.
I am interested to know your reactions to the piece, and have already heard from some of you (which have been overwhelming positive), but also wanted to share some of what I’ve reflected upon these past few days and my hopes for these future conversations.
To begin, I thought that Rachel Zoll, the journalist who authored the piece, did a tremendous job of capturing the complexities of our story. It was clear to me that she wanted to communicate our best intentions and hopes in coming together, for which I am grateful. I hope you felt that as well.
But I’m also grateful that she was honest about the challenges involved in this kind of work. Talking about race, racism, and the history of these things is uncomfortable and at times even painful. In speaking with a pastor friend of mine this week, he told me he appreciated the way the story acknowledged that we’re wrestling with these difficulties.
More than anything, hearing our story told back to us so powerfully has inspired me to keep going, and I hope you share in this with me.
We’ve already begun to receive notes and calls from around the country thanking us for our witness and courage, and encouraging us to see it through. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that people are looking to us to show a way forward, however small, in healing the wounds that have divided the church in America for so long, not to mention our country itself.
To see it one way, this is daunting! The challenge is great and of course much more than we could ever hope to accomplish alone. But let us not forget that we aren’t doing any of this alone. Of course we’re working together with our brothers and sisters on New St., but even more, our great hope is that we’re working with and through the Holy Spirit. This is truly God’s work, of which we are blessed to be a part.
Earlier this week at our Deacons meeting, I asked everyone to think ahead to these upcoming conversations, and consider what change they would like to see and experience, for themselves, their families and our church? What would you like to be different after these conversations? The gospel we proclaim is that Christ is truly making all things new. What would you have made new in your heart through this work? And what of the heart of our church, as this relationship continues to blossom? What must we do together for this to happen?
These are questions I’ve been considering myself, and they’re questions I hope you’ll consider and discuss with others in the coming weeks.
We will not and cannot do everything to heal the deep wounds of racial division in our country. But we can do something, and are, and it may be that this small “something” will become much more than we could have imagined. After all, as we’ve said so many times before, the gospel is nothing if not testimony to the power of small things.
What small thing might God do through us in this season together? What small thing might God do through you?