From the Very Rev. Kristina Maulden
We have now entered into the sixth month of 2020. We are living in a time that has caused us to change how we live and worship in dramatic ways. The global pandemic has exposed fissures in our health care systems and economic inequities for those who are poor and for people of color. This virus has impacted to a greater degree those who live in close quarters, those who have to work because of financial reasons, and those in the front lines of our service community. In our own state, we can see the devastation of the virus running rampant through the Navajo Nation.
The events of late May also have exposed once again the pervasive sin of racism that exists in our country, our communities, in our hearts. The death of George Floyd has become the tipping point that has spurred on countless protests, across our country and overseas, against institutionalized racism in our police forces and justice systems. The sin of racism runs deep in our country’s history and these protests are a continuation of the struggle for equality that began before any of us was born. The death of George Floyd is a stark reminder that we have a long way to go.
This Sunday our Old Testament reading comes from the beginning of Genesis. It is the story of creation and God’s pronouncement of its inherent goodness. The story continues with a remarkable description of the way in which God creates humans. It is a passage that has had relevance and truth for every person who has ever walked on this good earth:
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Created in the image of God. Each one of us with our differing external appearances carries within us the very imprint of God. Racism is a sin for many reasons. But, at the core, it is a sin because it blatantly denies this truth. Racism holds that one rendering of humanity is better or more deserving or inherently superior to any other rendering of humanity. Racism allows for people who have a different skin tone or ethnicity to be treated more harshly in the hands of those in positions of authority or of any sort of power. Racism in our own hearts leads us to ignore the mistreatment of others because it fuels our own bias and prejudices. How do we combat the hold racism has on us?
Those of us who do not experience institutional racism in our country because of our outward appearance, need to examine our conscience. Racism is a sin like any other. It is a failure to live up to the expectations of loving God and loving neighbor. We need to confess the ways in which we have fallen short of this standard by the things we have done and by the things we have left undone. We need to listen to those who have experienced racism. Listening with an open mind and a gentle heart leads to a deeper understanding of what other people face in their lives daily. We use our own voice to speak out on behalf of those who are treated unjustly. We can challenge racially charged jokes or demeaning statements. We look to elect people who will work for change to the existing realities of racial inequality. Confronting racism is necessary if we are to honor that reminder that all of us are created in the image of the Divine.