February 3, 2021
Pr. Cathy Daharsh
The month of February is designated as Black History Month. In recognition of this month, I would like to hold up a Black leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Pastor Kara Baylor. I first met Kara 20 years ago when she was beginning her ministry as a pastor in Racine. She was seminary roommates with the pastor of the congregation where I served as Director of Youth and Family Ministry in Sheboygan. Kara and I have crossed paths through the years through different conferences and through friends. She is currently serving as the Campus Pastor at Carthage College in WI. This summer she created a blog called Pissed Off Pastor where she reflects on her journey of faith and racism. She loves the Lutheran Church and through her love for our church, she helps our predominately White ELCA Church see the church from the perspective of someone of color. I have randomly posted Kara’s blogs on our Bethany Facebook Page but I would like to encourage you to read her blogs to learn about her insights of racism in recognition of Black History Month. Here is the first entry in her blog that she wrote in June:
"God is the Color of Water
POSTED ON JUNE 19, 2020BY PISSEDPASTOR
There are books on my shelf that will always be there, even if I never read the book again. Books that touched my heart, helped me see the world in a new way, or captured my imagination. These are the books I want to see when I walk by. Just seeing the titles there in my shelf keeps me grounded and reminds me what is most important to me.
One of those books is The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride. The quote that helps me understand God and helps me explain God in us is this,
" . . .one afternoon on the way home from church I asked her whether God was black or white”. . . . .”What color is God’s spirit?” “It doesn’t have a color,” she said. “God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.”
God doesn’t have a color. God is the color of water and water doesn’t have a color. When I first read these words, it made me think of being at a lake in northern Minnesota and looking at my reflection in the water. Well, you could kind of see your own refection. It is not a like a mirror that reflects a clear image. Looking at yourself in water gives you a wavy image. It reflects a lot of your image, but because of the movement of the water, there are parts that will never be fully revealed.
Growing up, God was an old white guy in my mind. If Jesus was the white dude with long brown hair than God must be a white guy, too, if he is the dad of Jesus. We did sing that Jesus loved all the little children, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. But we didn’t reflect Jesus or God in any other image but white or light skinned. So reading the idea that God was the color of water meant that the image of God could reflect me as well.
One of my favorite things to do when I taught confirmation was to invite in a member of the congregation who was a world traveler to join us. In every country she visited, she would purchase a nativity set. When she came to talk to the confirmation class, we would line the sanctuary with nativity sets from around the world so the students could see the Holy Family depicted in a way that reflected the culture in which the nativity set was created. It was eye opening for me and for the students as well. If I think Jesus looks like me, than others can think Jesus looks like them.
Why do we need to think of God in a dualistic way? God as black or white. God as male or female. God as gentle or strong. God is so much bigger and more creative then what has been written in scripture.
Did you know that there are over 40,000 varieties of bean seeds in the world genebanks? 40,000 ways of being a bean. Why do we think that God would limit humanity’s ways of being to just one, best way? A way, which in America, we most often have seen as white, male, wealthy, and Christian.
There are 8 Billion ways to be human and water reflects them all. Well, water doesn’t fully reflect it. Our reflection in the wavy surface of a body of water does not fully reveal who we are, it leaves some mystery. The mystery of the presence of God who dwells in us."
To read more of Kara’s writing click here: https://pissedoffpastor.org/blog/
We are called as a church to open our arms wider, to know and hear the stories of those who are different than ourselves. This month let us be intentional about reading and hearing the stories of our Black brothers and sisters.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for the gifts, accomplishments, influence and witness of our Black neighbors and siblings in Christ — we stand together to glorify God as partners in the gospel, doing God’s work in the world together. Though we are unified as siblings in Christ, we ask God to guide and help our church as it recommits to the work of racial justice, socioeconomic equity, racial reconciliation and ending racism. Amen.