For pastors, every Monday we have kind of a “morning-after” experience as we exit the weekend and anticipate the next. Today is a more poignant “morning-after” experience than most because of the unique events that took place this past weekend.
The sad truth is Saturday was such a busy day that I did not pay attention to media at all, so I had no idea until Sunday morning between church services what had happened in Charlottesville. When I was able to see what the rest of us saw, I felt nauseated as I read the reports. My prayers today are for the family and friends of Heather Heyer, the city of Charlottesville, our broken and messed-up country, and all those who tirelessly work toward racial equality, justice, and reconciliation. What Heather must have understood is that while these white supremacy groups are clearly way out on the fringe of our culture and may be easy to dismiss, the basic racism that fuels them is experienced every day in much more subtle but very real ways by minorities in our country.
As a pastor of a multi-ethnic church that is committed to racial reconciliation, I have had the opportunity to hear countless stories of racism on one hand and awakenings to prejudice born out of white privilege on the other. I know for this one blatant act of racism that was seen by everyone, there were thousands more subtle ones that will never be reported. It’s heartbreaking. This weekend was one more reminder of how broken our culture continues to be, and it leaves me sad. I am just really sad.
But on this “morning-after” the weekend, I have other emotions that are filling my heart as well. This past weekend I had the opportunity to jump back into worship services at Chase Oaks. I experienced the rich and wonderful blessings that diversity can bring yet again. While our church still has a very long way to go, I love that among those sitting near me at the Legacy Campus, and those teaching from the stage, and those playing the band, and those leading in worship—among those people, I was able to see and hear from people who don’t look just like me and came from cultures and ethnicities different from mine.
While I am the first to admit that we need more diversity than we currently have, I am also encouraged by the progress God is making. I am thrilled to see a more diverse group of voices shaping what Chase Oaks Church is becoming. I am sad about our culture, but I am encouraged by God’s work in our church. I am energized about the season of opportunity we get to live through. We have the opportunity as Christ followers to demonstrate what the gospel of Jesus can do through a group of diverse people. The unity through diversity that is available through Jesus is something unique to the entire world. When our culture is at its darkest, we have the opportunity to shine bright. I love our church, and I love that we are in this for the long haul.
Maybe you share a mixture of emotions this Monday as well. I’m very happy that while this weekend’s events are tragic, they are not the end of the story of God’s redemptive work. I’m thankful I get to be part of the something bigger that God is doing in our culture, and I’m glad to be doing it with you.