Living on Faith
“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. God’s kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey God.” – Daniel 7:27 (NIV, adapted)
During Lent this year, our church took on a non-traditional fast that we entitled, “Fasting from Whiteness.” Our children’s programming was unabashedly and joyfully anti-racist, using a Godly-Play-style curriculum called, “Tell me the Truth about Racism,” developed by Episcopalian children’s minister Jen Enriquez. Our bulletin art was drawn from the series “Icons of the Bible” by photographer James C. Lewis, who generously allowed us to feature his work for a modest fee. Our music was drawn exclusively from composers of color. Following the practice of United Parish of Brookline, we paid royalties to a local nonprofit as a way to reparatively address the racist history of spirituals being largely public domain and thus not compensated under our CCLI license.
In short, it was a whole thing.
But then the Tuesday before Palm Sunday, our “Fasting from Whiteness” became national and international news. A barrage of media coverage followed, with intense attention focused on us including threats against me personally and against our worshiping community. What followed that barrage was a deluge (is a deluge bigger than a barrage? I think it is) of support from Christians and non-Christians alike. From as close as the church across the street and as far away as the Netherlands. The gospel was spread like the leaven in bread.
In short, that was a whole thing, too.
My word to the church is: be bold in anti-racism work! Trust the vision of the prophet Daniel: in the end, God will get what God wants—a just world for all. We can be courageous in anti-racism work, because God has already won the victory. Ours is but to be faithful and live like we know it’s the truth.
God, to you be the glory!
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.