A letter from Pastor Bob

Dear GC family,

Words eluded me for several days in the wake of the video revelation of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Feeling flat and breathless, I finally remembered this was the same feeling I had last August when my civil rights pilgrimage ended in Montgomery at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice; also known as the ‘Lynching Museum’. Same horror. Same feeling. Same loss of words. I’m sorry for the delay. 

Praying for words, I wrote the final draft of this week’s sermon today. I humbly offer to my sisters and brothers of color, the last 3 sermon minutes below. These words and the context that precedes them will arrive by video on Sunday at 10am, in GraceCity’s online worship on this page.

For your consideration, here’s the final 3 minutes of my manuscript, centered on the text from Luke 11:9-10 you read above…

“…and speaking of heaven, Jesus’ teaching on prayer brings radical connection not only to God, but to one another as well. GraceCity, the “body of Christ” is much more than a collection of people who believe the same way. On earth, the body of Christ is the most important reality to portray heaven.

‘Ask, seek and knock’ applies to the activity of the church. Don’t be stingy with these actions across quarantine. These words are laden with power, and humility too…because these are words of community GraceCity. 

ASK and you are suddenly not alone in a community primed (at it’s best) to meet your need. 

SEEK those in need. Be like Christ who stops teaching to feed the 5000, interrupts the urgent to find the hemorrhaging woman, declares to the leper who appears in his path, “of course I’m willing, be clean.”

And KNOCK…  Knock. Knock repeatedly and powerfully over against the ongoing  structural injustices that plague our world. Here’s my personal “knocking prayer” following the events of this week and the horrific history that precedes… Join me if you like.

“Lord this week once again, we all witnessed a familiar horror, as a black man was murdered, this time while jogging. I can barely breathe in the watching. It reminds me that I need to lose my breath more often over the everyday injustices of our Baltimore, our America, our world. 

Lord, my sisters and brothers of color continue to live in frustration, fear, and exhaustion, all of which leads to rightful anger. I join in full agreement with their voices. I stand with them against racial violence, and all racialized sin. Lord, right now, we need your intervention. Don’t allow the new suffering of plague, to give cover to that which perpetuates the old suffering of racial injustice. Our brothers and sisters cannot bear any more. Use this season of new suffering Lord, to render a new community of reconciliation on the other side of Covid; a community that stands immovable against racial sin, and stands immutably for your creation design of beautifully diverse people, on earth, just as it is in heaven. Amen.”

Family, I want to invite people who look like me to write their own “knocking prayer” this week if the Spirit moves you. Knocking brings action, allying our knock with the centuries old knocking that people of color pray so often. I believe it will help you deal with your own breathlessness, and proceed with hopeful strategic direction as you initiate such radical connection with our God and with our dear fellow followers of Jesus Christ. Perhaps your next steps will bring you to the street in new ways with your GC family. Corey and I are rightly proud of your steadfast determination to reconcile people to God and to one another, by the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s not an easy path. It’s not an easy church.

With breathless sighs, huge love, and appreciation always,

Pastor Bob 

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