It was a rare Sunday during which I could pick any church – of all the churches in our Presbytery and beyond – to be with the people of God. And I really needed to be with the people of God, praying together and worshiping The God of All Things, especially after The Verdict of 7-13-13.
I am, admittedly, a judgmental person. As a professional minister, I judge sermons harshly. I look – intentionally – for moving liturgy, authentic community, and real people. So – with the attitude of a judgmental editor – I experienced, yesterday, Good People, albeit people who welcomed me with “What are you doing here?” (Really.) The prayers were heartfelt and compassionate. But the sermon – honestly – could have been preached 20 years ago, 30 years ago, or even 50 years ago without any edits.
I showed up longing for someone to talk about the George Zimmerman acquittal. I needed to hear a Word of comfort in the midst of deep sadness. And this is what the preacher shared with me after worship:
Pastor: We live in a community that’s 52% black. It’s scary.
Pastor: My wife used to teach 7th grade science but she found that those kids were illiterate. No wonder they don’t have jobs. No wonder they shoot each other. It’s a real problem.
I am not quick on my feet. I can think of all sorts of things to say about 30 minutes after a conversation. The comments of this pastor horrified me but I couldn’t respond until after the fact.
This is a real story. It was a real conversation.
Here’s the thing: We need to have some honest conversations about reality and race.
Photo of a quiet place on Lake Sylvan in Sanford, Florida.