Confessions of a Racist Heart: St. Louis Jesus Zingers part 1
I am white.
I am male.
I am a millennial.
I was/am a pastor in an overwhelmingly white denomination.
I have been called to a ministry that within the United States serves predominantly Boomer white females. My friends, neighbors, and fellow CrossFitters at my box are also white. My worldview has been rooted in the affluent, white majority - a culture of white privilege. Good opportunities. Good schools. Good communities. Good outlook. Good jobs.
I live in a city that has been divided racially. The great white flight to the suburbs has come and gone, like it has in most cities. Now, the millennials are moving back. Regentrification is alive and well in my city. There are great divides. A city where gang activity is the only norm for some. In my neighborhood, one hundred and fifty years ago people fought to the death over a predominately racial issue. In my city, Bessie Smith and other jazz legends used the arts to share their story. I drive from my house to downtown on Martin Luther King Boulevard, daily seeing a reminder of Dr. King’s influence in our city.
Dr. Eric Mason started a sermon Becky and I heard at The Village Church in Flowermound, TX with the quote above. It was racial reconciliation Sunday, during a season at The Village where different prayer emphases were highlighted. Dr. Mason’s word struck a cord with me. Racial reconciliation and repentance? Dr. Mason then walked through Psalm 51. You can listen to the sermon HERE. As I look back, I think this a pivotal moment in realizing how the Spirit wanted to apply the work of the gospel in this place in my heart and life.
Though I've given you my context, I've forgotten one huge thing that has taken place-
I fully admit that I don't understand what has been taking place in St. Louis and subsequent communities throughout the United States after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson almost two years ago. I remember watching, from the comfort of my own couch, various Periscope and twitter live feeds about everything that was going on after he was shot. It was raw. My heart sank into my gut. I wept. I didn't understand. I still don't understand. The multiple shootings that have taken place, I don't understand. The Black Lives Matter Movement. The tear gas. The looting. The polarization. The name calling and demonization on both sides within the media. The continued shootings in other communities. The text, "Let justice roll down like the rivers." The reality that my brother in law is a police officer in Chattanooga. An officer and team of officers whom I highly value and respect their sacrifice for the safety of our community. All of these things have been swirling around in my mind, in my soul - I still don't understand.
Though I don't understand, I want to engage. I want to engage, but I must do so through the guidance of the Spirit. Though I don't understand, I can humbly and prayerfully ask the Spirit of God to give me eyes to see and grace to change.
Over the next couple of blog posts, I'd like to share with you what the Lord has been showing me. It's about the Gospel, but it is about some ugliness that has been back in the recesses of my heart. It is about community and heartache. It is about a family. It is about the hope of Jesus and the power of the word of God in the lives of His children. God has been gently working it out from the moment I heard Dr. Eric Mason say the above words (four years ago), to now. Recently, it was intensified when I went to visit St. Louis. Though I have been processing it for over a month now, I realize that I will continue to process in the months to come. I humbly invite you along.
First, a family.
In St. Louis, I met a family. The sponsor of our Precept Training Workshop, which is the person on the ground that lines up all of the details, was Renee Higgins. Before I introduce you to her, I'd like to introduce you to her husband, Pastor Mike Higgins. Pastor Mike is the Pastor of South City Church, a peculiar family in the heart of South City. He is also the Dean of Students at Covenant Theological Seminary, a phenomenal theological training ground for the Presbyterian Church of America. Spending time with him in his office while at Covenant, watching him interact with the men whom he is raising up in South City, and hearing some of the stories that he shares below have been a catalyst for me. As I have been praying about all of these things, I happened upon this amazing video, which beautifully depicts some of the things that I've been navigating.
Everyone, meet Pastor Mike:
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