Whenever we interact with each other as a community — during Sunday morning worship, in small groups, by email, in the Facebook group, wherever — we are doing so in intentional relationship. We are practicing ways of being together that aren’t always how things are in other spaces. We are fostering a culture that says, we need one another. Or more specifically (in words from the Rev. Theresa I. Soto): “All of us need all of us to make it.”
Get that? To make it.
How do we do that for each other? How do we honor each other’s inherent worthiness by fully recognizing that we truly, deeply and urgently need one another? And because all means ALL, how can the very act of being in relationship help to dismantle the structures and systems of oppression and racism that don’t want some people to make it?
One way is by practicing relational accountability where we notice and interrupt racist or oppressive actions or speech in the moment. And it’s doing this even when we may believe the person to have good intentions or a good heart … even if the actions or words seem relatively mild … even if we “know that’s not what they meant.” In antiracist work, this act of compassionate but direct interruption is especially important for white people to do with other white people.
The reality is that there is no place in any of our lives where we have not done harm. There is no place where any of us have lived up to the illusion of being perfect. When we realize our mistakes or have them brought to our attention, we can respond out of defensiveness, shame, guilt or embarrassment. We can dig ourselves into a hole of hubris that refuses to listen to or learn from what is being shared with us.
OR, we can know that this is the work of living in right and loving and change-making relationship. We can draw upon our Universalist theology that recognizes our very humanness and gives primacy to an all encompassing Love that says grace is abundant and our worthiness can never ever be diminished.
This is our work to do together. To call each other into deeper accountability. To lean into discomfort and nurture resiliency. To embrace life-long learning and humility. To fiercely believe that all of us need all of us to make it.
This weekly pastoral message by the Interim Ministry Team comes out on Wednesdays. Rev. Meg, Rev. Terri and Arif will take turns writing or recording a video.
To make “compassionate but direct interruption” – even when all of the “even ifs” raise their heads – is some of the work of allyship. At work, many people repeat the phrase, “Ally is a VERB”. These reminders are helpful to me, and help me realize that “even if” I’m uncomfortable, I can’t begin to imagine the discomfort of someone who lives in spaces of oppression daily. So I am working to get out of my “comfort zone”, and ACT.