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May We Say, “Here I am”

by Donna Claycomb Sokol

Grace and Race Ministries, LLC is pleased to introduce a new Board of Directors. Each week, Grace and Race Ministries, LLC will feature one of their writings.

“Is it too early to pop the champagne?” my dear friend texted on the day before the Inauguration.

“How many of us will awaken on Thursday morning feeling less anxious?” another friend asked on Facebook?

The questions have merit. Indeed, many people have been longing for the start of a new administration. But these questions are not the questions members of the congregation I serve are asking. Their questions, shared in different Zoom meetings made available to process and pray, include:

  • “I work in the red zone. When I’m finally able to return to work, will my walk along those sidewalks ever be the same?”
  • “We are waiting for the shoe to drop. Will it be a combat boot or a ballet slipper?”
  • “What is happening to our unhoused neighbors?”
  • “Are there times, as an Asian American man, when I will continue to feel unsafe on my own block because of the guests staying in the hotel next door?”
  • “Will Washington ever be the same?”

The last question is the only one I can confidently answer. No. Washington will never be the same since White Supremacists and Nationalists violently sieged the Capitol building leaving five people dead, the working space of Members of Congress violated, and democracy teetering on the brink of toppling over.

But I pray you see how your community, wherever you are, should also never be the same. Isaiah 59:14 reads “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot answer.”

Truth is, indeed, stumbling in the public square. But is truth also stumbling in our churches?

When it comes to the lie of white supremacy and the power of disinformation that led to January 6, have we helped people better understand the truth? Or is our silence contributing to the lies not only living, but gathering additional steam that ultimately raged in ways that made the light of Epiphany impossible to see alongside Confederate flags waving in Statuary Hall?

What have we done to stop the lies and disinformation? How are we helping people see the truth of every individual made in God’s image as a good place to start?

Our congregation recently sang the beloved hymn, “Here I Am, Lord.” These words have remained with me, “I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone, I will speak my word to them. Whom shall I send?”

May we say, “Here I am,” to the invitation to transform hearts of stone into hearts of love that see the divine imprint upon each person.

May we say, “Here I am,” to the invitation to speak God’s word, the very truth Pilate asked Jesus about, in as many ways possible.

May we say, “Here I am,” to calling the church into account on race.

While a new administration can bring about change, the church has its work cut out for us when it comes to leading the healing that our nation desperately needs.

What role might we play? Will you join me in saying, “Here I am, Lord?”

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