Advent 1: Telling the Truth about Our Churches and Race
Pray the Collect for This Sunday.
Read the Scripture Together: Mark 13:24-72
Reflection: Keep Awake In the gospel, Jesus promises a new day is coming. He also urges people to wake and get ready. What does that mean for us? One of the earliest, hardest steps toward becoming a community that reflects God’s dream is telling the truth. Like the servants left behind, we may be tempted to bury our heads, but there is grace and truth in examining our church’s story and bringing to light what has been hidden. Jesus invites us to see what is really happening and then to ask for the Spirit’s power to live anew.
In the Labyrinth: Telling the Truth about Our Churches and Race
We cannot become what God created us to be unless we also examine who we have been and who we are today. Who are you, as a church community? What groups are included and excluded? What things have you, as a church, done and left undone?
Make It Real: Inside/Outside Exercise
Gather in groups, ideally of no more than eight people. Share the Conversation Tips from the welcome letter. Now invite people to pause and recall a particular time and place when you felt welcome, as if your voice, ideas, and presence were valued (if it has never happened, imagine it in detail). Pair off and tell the story to a neighbor, for about one minute each.
Next, recall a particular time and place when you felt unwelcome, as if your voice, ideas and presence were not valued or received. Share with the same neighbor. Then reflect in the small group. What did it feel like to share about being welcome? Unwelcome? To hear someone else’s story?
What did you learn?
Now as a whole group, take a large sheet of paper and draw a circle within a circle.
- What racial, cultural, and ethnic groups experience their voices, presence, and ideas as valued and welcome in your congregation today?
- Which groups have been welcome and shaped your church’s story since its founding? Write those groups in the inner circle.
- What racial, cultural, and ethnic groups are not present and/or not welcome in your congregation today, although they are in the same or a nearby town, area, or region?
- What groups have been unwelcome or on your church’s margins in the past? Write those groups in the wider circle.
How do you feel as you recall and share these realities?
Where do you see possibilities for growing into Beloved Community? Name them together.
You may wish to give thanks for God’s grace, wisdom, and abiding love, and for the honesty, courage, and vulnerability people demonstrated. You may return to the promise of forgiveness and new life that we receive in Jesus Christ.