Rise & Shine - April 15
What is the Church’s role in the ongoing fight for social equality?
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's story can be read or downloaded below.
Historic Milestones Give Nation Space to Reflect on Where We Are, How Far We Have Come, What Work Remains
Linda Brown, the African-American student most closely associated with the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, died March 25 after an extended illness. She was 75.
On April 4, the nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader
What do milestones such as these mean for our society and for our journey of faith?
Gov. Jeff Colyer on Monday memorialized Brown's importance, not only in the state of Kansas, but in the country as a whole: "Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America. Linda Brown's life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world."
In a recent CBS News interview, correspondent Michelle Miller asked the daughter of King how she currently handles the milestones that trigger memories of that fateful day. Bernice thought for a moment before responding, "If I had to do it all over again, would I want my dad here? I would say, 'No. '" She acknowledged that there were certainly times when she would have liked to be able to have her father there "to ask the tough questions," but she said, "Our world is in a better place because our father gave his life."
Not everyone agrees with Bernice’s and Colyer’s assessments of conditions in the world, however. State University of New York at Potsdam Professor John Youngblood told TWW that most of his African-American students did not vote in the 2016 national election because, in their view, it wouldn't make a difference in their personal lives or communities.
In 2018, many schools in the country are as segregated as they were in 1954, or even more so. Resistance to court orders to desegregate has been a factor in the persistence of segregated schools. Segregation of schools is also a byproduct of segregated neighborhoods, since students who attend public schools are generally assigned to facilities based on where they live. To the extent that neighborhoods are segregated, the schools are as well. In addition, Latino students for instance are increasingly segregated in housing and educational facilities, by language as well.
Even after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, students who attended newly desegregated schools often found that black teachers were few and far between, since the Supreme Court decision did not require the hiring of a diverse staff of educators and administrators. A problem that still persists today. Furthermore, while some people of color have attained positions of power in government and business, as well as higher income and education levels, many say they still experience discrimination in lending, housing, education and employment, as well as inequities in the criminal justice, political and health care systems. The poverty rate for blacks in the United States today is 22 percent, almost three times that of whites, for example.
The civil rights movement has been, to many, a series of successes and setbacks. King knew the ebb and flow of patchwork and piecemeal progress stitched together slowly over time by many hands. He put it this way: "Lord, we ain't what we oughta be. We ain't what we want to be. We ain't what we gonna be. But, thank God, we ain't what we was."
More on this story can be found at these links:
A Visit to Topeka: Reflecting on Linda Brown's Legacy. NPR
Linda Brown, Student at Center of Brown v. Board of Education, Dies at 75. Chicago Tribune
The Data Proves That School Segregation Is Getting Worse. Vox
Black Americans Mostly Left Behind By Progress Since Dr. King's Death. The Conversation
For Children of Martin Luther King Jr., Trauma of His Assassination Is Still Fresh. CBS News
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. (For context, read 2:1-16.)
Peter was the true groundbreaker concerning working among the Gentiles when you consider Acts 10 and the conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household.
However, in Antioch, Peter bowed to pressure from certain Jerusalem Christ-followers and reverted to eating only with Jewish believers -- separate from Gentile Christ-followers -- instead of eating together at one table. Paul called him out publicly for this, arguing that such behavior was inconsistent with the message of the gospel, which claims that none of us is saved by works of the law, but that we are all justified by faith in Christ, no matter one's background. There is no room for a caste system in the church of Christ.
Questions: Where are we in the church today with regards to segregation? Are we going backward in some ways? Why are so many Christian churches self-segregated by race, ethnicity and/or language? Is that a bad thing? Why or why not? How might segregation impact the church's ability to carry out its mission effectively?
James 2:1, 8-9
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? ... You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (For context, read 2:1-9.)
Here James instructs believers not to show favoritism or partiality toward the rich and powerful, dishonoring the poor. Repeatedly in scripture God is pictured as not showing partiality in this way (Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:11), and we are admonished to act the same way toward others, no matter what their class, ethnicity, race or status (Deuteronomy 16:19; 1 Timothy 5:21).
Questions: How does society today show partiality toward certain races, perhaps inadvertently, by showing partiality toward those with wealth and power? What should we do when we see patterns of partiality or favoritism in the church? In our community or the larger society?
1 Corinthians 11:28-29, 33
Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. … So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. (For context, read 11:17-34.)
When believers met to share the Lord's Supper in the early days, they actually ate a meal together. A problem arose in the Corinthian church when not everyone could arrive at the same time. As a result, those who had to work late might arrive hungry, only to find nothing left on the table.
Paul advises those who come first to "discern the body" of Christ; in other words, have a care for the members of the body of Christ who are not as fortunate as you are, and wait for them, or at the very least, put aside some food in a Tupperware for those who are coming late.
Questions: How can the Lord's Supper serve as a marker or milestone by which we examine our attitudes and behaviors toward others? Since many churches don't celebrate the Lord's Supper the same way the early church did, what might be a modern equivalent of "discerning the body" of Christ for believers today?
Prayer for Social Justice (BCP p.823)
Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so
move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the
people of this land], that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our
divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.