May 29, 2020
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we prepared the virtual service for this Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost, this opportunity to express our joyful praise for the One who holds us together and calls us to proclaim the Good News even in difficult times, we did not know we would be mourning the tragic death of George Floyd, an African American brutally treated by Minneapolis police officers this week.
I recorded my sermon prior to this terrible news ... and yet you will hear me speak of two other senseless deaths of Black and Brown children of God. I could have named many more. It is all too common. It is news that we cannot ignore.
In my sermon for this Sunday, I invite us to stand up as followers of Jesus Christ and express our outrage at such injustice. As Christian disciples we each need to do our own work to dismantle the racist structures, policies, attitudes and behaviors that we encounter within and around us. Faithfulness to the cause of Christ calls us to hold the tension of the world's pain within the mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In 2016, the Jurisdictional Conference, responding to other outrageous acts of violence, brutality, and tragic loss of people of color, unanimously affirmed a Call to Action for Racial Justice (CTA). Since that time, we have taken many steps to address our own complacency, privilege, and racist policies and structures in these intervening years. We have spent time with one another in Vital Conversations. Our Conference Commission on Religion and Race have provided training opportunities to engage in this difficult but necessary work throughout the conference. There is still much work to do.
My sister in Christ, Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race, challenges us to recognize that racism is not something that happens at a distance ... but something that must be confronted within each of us and our church. She offered these powerful words in her letter to the UMC yesterday:
Because, in the final analysis, there is no "out there." The same power analysis and scrutiny of unjust systems that the horrendous death of George Floyd has provoked must be applied to The United Methodist Church. Explicit and implicit racism assaults the mental, spiritual and physical health of people of color in the church as well as those we are called to serve.
On Sunday, May 31, Christian churches across the globe will celebrate Pentecost and the miracle that happens when the wind of the Holy Spirit blows new life upon a gathering of believers. What shall we — the community of faith — make of this opportunity to be transformed anew by the breath of God, even as we are simultaneously confronted by the image of one of God's children pinned to the ground, begging for life and exclaiming "I can't breathe"? Read the full letter
As Pentecost people, we pray that the winds of the Holy Spirit will empower us to follow God into the places of pain in order that we might bring healing and hope to the world.
In Christ's Love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar