The following piece appeared in the Faith Formation and Education newsletter. Subscribe to receive future newsletters.
“Parable of the Sower” by Kathy Bozzuti-Jones, 2014
[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
Since the brutal killing of George Floyd, amid a devastating pandemic, outraged Americans are out on the streets protesting the ways in which injustice and racist violence are woven into American life and culture, demanding a reckoning of our nation’s long and sinful history of appalling systemic racial injustice.
This is a sacred moment. This is an opportunity to meet the momentum of our day with clarity and resolve. An opportunity for repentance, to turn toward God’s vision of justice — and to learn how to show up for one another, again and again, because this is what love requires.
How am I going to be in this moment? This question precedes: What is my part to do? From a faith formation perspective, showing up for our brothers and sisters flows out from the turn inward. Showing up fully — and for the long haul — demands the practice of attentiveness to the truth, both inside and outside of our experience. It demands attention to the patterns within ourselves that help perpetuate racism. It demands willingness to make an honest assessment of the risks we are willing to take and the sacrifices we are willing to make, to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Checking in with ourselves, as people of faith, involves our personal accountability to God’s desire for human flourishing, for fullness of life and the common good, as the prophet Micah outlines. The turn inward is not navel-gazing; it is the searching work of gathering strength and gaining clarity, as essential to living into a new reality of loving connection.
In truth, our entire Christian lives have prepared us to be responsive in this moment of crisis. Every choice, every commitment, the gifts of wise teachers, every act of worship, every moment of true connection. Ongoing prayer and connection to the divine Source is how we discover our unique roles in the work of embodying justice right now. Clarity comes from sitting in the divine Presence. Clarity comes from bringing before God our difficult emotions — the sorrow, the fear, the disappointment, the righteous anger — and, for white people, the shame and disconnection that accompany white privilege. And when we commit to seeking the clarity that comes with close attention to the truth of our inner lives, we can turn well-meaning sincerity into informed choices for right action, born of compassion, instead of rejection or projection.
As disciples rooted in the life and ministry of Jesus, we know we are called to show up fully for our brothers and sisters seeking justice. We can practice showing up more skillfully, in real time. We can show up, get it wrong, reflect on how our actions align with our deepest desires, and show up again. And again. So that more and more of our actions might embody the awareness of our deepest intentions to “go and do likewise.”
Rhonda Magee, law professor and facilitator of trauma-informed mindfulness training, closes her book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice, with a prayer. In it, we are reminded that disciplined inner work supports our outer work of reconnection:
May we bring ourselves into continual conversation with one another and with the racial injustices here and now, ending suffering and making things right — one moment, one risk, one luminous reconnection at a time (IWRJ, 334). Amen.
—Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones
Dr. Kathy Bozzuti-Jones is Associate Director of Faith Formation and Education at Trinity Church Wall Street. Join her and fellow spiritual director John Deuel for online group spiritual practice Wednesdays, 6:30–7:30pm. To sign up, email ChristianFormation@trinitywallstreet.org.
Questions for Reflection
How do you bring your personal story of faith formation to bear in conversations about race and racism?
How do you bring your relationship with God to bear in decisions about how to participate in healing conversations about race and the sin of racism?
How do you know what is your part to play in showing up for racial justice activism?
- The Inner Work of Racial Justice by Rhonda V. Magee
- Prayers of Lament from Mennonite Church USA
- ChurchNext — Trinity's Faith Formation & Education department has partnered with ChurchNext, a leading provider of online study resources, to create a library of courses that relate to our parish’s core values. We've added three courses on racial justice, including Whiteness and Racial Justice with Theologian in Residence Kelly Brown Douglas.