Racism as the Church's Problem Pt. 2

Racism as the Church's Problem Pt. 2

I share all of this because I want you to know what it’s like for me to be a part of the Body of Christ, to go to church and to be in relationship with the Christians around me at any given moment. There are entire generations of Christians who have grown up and died and before they died raised up other generations not clothed in Christ or the new self but in racist systems and mindsets, in the low thoughts and earthly passions of the old self. When you go to church on Sunday (and you should; if I can, there’s no good reason why you can’t), I want you to take note of your experience compared to mine. I want you to remember what I suffer; I think this is a faithful request, for before Paul called us to remember his chains, Christ Himself called us to remember the suffering He endured first and endured for us.

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Racism as the Church's Problem

Racism as the Church's Problem

If you call yourself a Christian, racism is your problem. Racism is your problem because I call myself a Christian, and it’s my problem, and you and I and all Christians are members of the same Body, and Paul tells you in Hebrews to remember those who are mistreated, since you are also in the Body (13:3). Racism is your problem because people who also count themselves as members of this Body and call themselves Christians practice racism right now, every day, long after racism has been declared “dead” by the world and longer after the Greek and Jew, slave and free have been declared one in Christ by Christ. Racism is your problem because racism boldly, blatantly, and shamelessly rejects everything to which we’re called as Christians. Racism is your problem because it flies in the face of the new self for the sake of the fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive language, and lies of the old self.  Racism is your problem because parts of our Body think it isn’t their problem, and those Christians need a faithful witness.

Racism is your problem because you are part of Christ’s Body, and Christ has witnessed that this is His problem. Its Christ’s problem when He asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water and she responds, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” for Jews did not share things in common with Samaritans--yet Jesus was making all things new, all things shared and in common among those who believe in Him (John 4). Racism is Christ’s problem when He tells us to do not as the Hebrews do, who see a stranger naked and beaten and abandoned and pass him by, but as the Samaritan man does, who sees this stranger, naked and beaten and abandoned, and has mercy on him (Luke 10). Racism is a Christian problem because Christians are failing in the world and in the Church to acknowledge that racism is a problem and because Christians are failing in the world and in the Church to stop being the problem.

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Advent: A Season of In Between

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

   for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up a mighty savior for us

   in the house of his servant David,

as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

    that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,

   and has remembered his holy covenant,

the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

   to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,

might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness

   before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people

   by the forgiveness of their sins.

By the tender mercy of our God,

   the dawn from on high will break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

   to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 1:68-79 NRSV


We are a people caught in the middle--in the middle of the fulfilled yet unfinished story of God. We have been given the promise and hope that Christ will return, but we don’t know when. We are caught between the remembrance of the birth of Christ and the anticipation of Christ’s return. We are caught between the being and the becoming; the present and the not yet.

Every year this limbo and in betweenness seems to weigh more. Our eyes have been opened more to the tragedies sin and death have caused in our world. When we see the events going on in the world--refugees being turned away, war being waged on women’s bodies, children being separated from their families, people unable to communicate with the “other side”, the rich and powerful being able to do what they want with no consequence--and Christians seemingly turning a blind eye to all of it. Yes, this limbo and heaviness and waiting is hard; but it has also caused me to pause and ask, “What are we to do in this in between and waiting time?”

The Canticle of Zechariah was heralded after Zechariah had been silenced by an angel for over nine months. Many have proposed Zechariah was bursting at the seams to speak; he was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, and in a frenzy blurted out this hymn about the Christ and his own son, John.

But, I would like the pose the idea that Zechariah spent those 9 months listening intently to the Lord and the people around him. His silence caused him to slow down and pause. In those 9 months, he was given an awareness of the things to come and a faith bold enough to proclaim the Truth of Christ. While he was waiting for the advent of his son, Zechariah was forced to pay attention to the world around him. The advent—the waiting— the world found themselves in; the advent we still find ourselves in today.

This canticle hopeful, but it’s hopefullness did not come to be without patience and silence. Zechariah was unable to see and know yet the goodness in the arrival of Jesus the Christ. Zechariah was a man caught in the middle. Christ hadn’t been born, but Zechariah knows that he will be the one that would rescue us from the hands of our enemies. He can see the coming glory, while not attaining it yet.

The canticle doesn’t begin as we might think a song from a father about the birth of his own son would sound. Zechariah’s heart was overwhelmed with the revelation that the God of Israel is faithful and true, because he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them and sent us a Savior just as he had promised. Most of this song is a declaration of Christ; it is not until about halfway through that Zechariah speaks of his own son.

Verse 76 reads And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”
These are some profound statements about John’s life. He is just born and is being given his vocation. He is called a prophet of the Most High; he is going to prepare the way for the Lord; he will tell people the story of salvation and forgiveness.

What if I said that when we are baptized into the family of God that this is our vocation as well? Would that change how you read these verses? Would you feel empowered? Or be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the call?

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.”

It is true that this is addressed to us in the here and now. This is the tension that we live in every day--the balancing act of remembering Christ’s birth, heralding his coming, hoping in his return! These words are for us, in this waiting and anticipation, we are called to tell other people of the Good News that the Lord has provided a Son. He has come and made a way for our salvation through the forgiveness of our sins. And he will come again.

No matter the hardship of the waiting, the pangs of labor, the groans of creation; no matter how heavy your heart is this Advent season, hold fast to the truth, “In the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  

Amen.

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Rev. Emily Hamil

Emily is an alumni of The Wesley Foundation at Louisiana Tech University. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Divinity at Duke Divinity School. Emily is impassioned for the word of God and His children. She is bold in her vocation— to be a prophetic voice for the silenced, overlooked, oppressed, and unseen…the same humble masses the Lord also defends, corrals, and shepherds into his flock.



Emma's Wesley Testimony

Emma's Wesley Testimony

I have been at the Wesley Foundation for almost six years. When I first started coming to Louisiana Tech I was someone who was in loneliness wanting a way to get out. Each day I would search for someone to be friends with but I would never have the courage to interact with them. One day after English class a girl, named Ki, invited me to The Wesley’s weekly lunch. And because of her, I was able to meet other people from The Wesley.

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The Acts of the Apostles: A Wesley Account

The Acts of the Apostles: A Wesley Account

Love. Serve. Move. These three words define what it means to be a part of the Wesley. They are on shirts of students that are relaxing in the back room. You may find them on wooden pallets that bear photos of missions past, and the loved ones who bore witness to these words in action. As a bit of an older Wesleyian now, I can recall many moments in my short time here that exemplify these words.

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Feed My Sheep

Feed My Sheep

I am more than a month into the internship at the Welsey Foundation, and it is quite the experience! It is often exhausting, radically illuminating, and truly fulfilling. It is showing me what it means to be a Christian leader. I’ve had a faulty understanding of leadership, but during the past year, and especially these several weeks, my understanding is being corrected. I am growing into someone who is leaving behind personal pretenses and learning what is most important to discipling God’s people.

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Camellia's Time in Mexico

Camellia's Time in Mexico

Read Camellia’s life changing experience in Mexico.

“To say that Mexico changed my life would not be an exaggeration. It being my first mission trip, I didn’t fully know what to expect. However, from the stories I’d heard from others, I anticipated to work, learn to function within a group, share the Gospel, and in Mexico specifically, force myself into awkward encounters of struggling to communicate in a language that I was far from fluent in…”

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