In my sermon last Sunday on the “boundary-transgressing desire of God for intimacy” made manifest in Acts 10, I mentioned that I relied heavily on the theological commentary of Willie James Jennings.
For further discussion this Sunday (Mar 28) and Tuesday (Mar 30) in our Racism & Repentance groups, I commend to you this 55-minute video of Jennings speaking on the origin of race: The Origin of Race (Willie James Jennings).
In the video (which can be a little theologically “dense,” but feel free to pause to make sure you’re taking it all in!), Jennings suggests we need a “spiritual practice of Christian belonging” that is powerful enough to disrupt and counteract our strongly felt racial belonging. He says this spiritual practice must involve three things:
- The renunciation of whiteness (“No one is born white,” Jennings says, “It is a choice.”)
- The humility of a learner (“God delights in learning about God’s own creation.”)
- A desire for life together that is registered geographically (“Race is a matter of geography… our geographic senses are always haunted by racial anxiety.”)
Jennings says this is the “love work” we must be about as the people of God for this urgent moment. Here are some reflection questions to ponder as you listen to Jennings’ talk:
- What questions or challenges arise for you?
- What opportunities or “aha” moments come up for you?
- As you think about the 3 aspects of the spiritual practice of belonging, what practical steps come to mind as ways to move toward this kind of practice?
I’m so thankful for your willingness to participate in these conversations and this repentance. I see God powerfully at work in our midst this Lent. Let us continue to learn to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God together.
Grace and peace,