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Thanksgiving for Racial Reconciliation

two person hugging photograph

I am thankful for the blood of Jesus who cleanses me from the sins of my past and the sins of my ancestors. I am thankful I do not carry their guilt before God.

I am thankful, but I am still sorry. I am still sad.

I am thankful for the hand of fellowship offered to me by African American friends when they could have turned me away for the sins of my ancestors or those who look like me. As for me and my house, I hope you know that these who call you names and shoot you without cause are not my people, I do not know them, or align with their politics, or defend their unrighteous acts, in public or private. And when I hear racist talk I call it out for the evil it is.

I am sorry that the Christian school my daughter attends was started as a white only school in response to segregation. I am sorry for the damage they did and for the defunding that subsequently happened when the numbers went down at your public school with white flight.

I am sorry that the school my husband teaches for had racism as a part of their history and that it still is a draw for families looking for a safe haven for racism and prejudice. We are trying to fight that from the inside.

I’m sorry that we have no idea how to repent as a nation or how to fix the problems that exist now. You are invited to help me understand what I do not. I will listen.

I am sorry for how I didn’t understand what the government was doing to keep black and minority people in ghettos and urban areas by redlining, only to ignore the very problems they created.

I am sorry that even now I do not know how to keep you from getting hurt over and over again.

I am sorry I do not know you well enough to know how you identify ethnically.

You are more than a color to me.

You are more than “diversity” to me, more than a “platform” or a “photo op.”

You are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I hope you feel honored by me.

I would like to think I would have stopped the racist legislation and stood between you and those who beat you for the color of your skin.

Even still, the thought haunts me that ignorance, distance, and fear would have kept me from doing that.

That it keeps me from doing that now…may God forbid.

Please tell me how I can help,

I want to hear your laments.

And it makes me cry because, instead of curses,

I hear you leading me in worship, into the presence of God,

Without demanding an apology, without condemnation.

Simply an invitation to come with you and be one, side by side, in the presence of God.

For any way I have unintentionally personally or publicly shamed you, please forgive me.

I’m thankful that I am your sister and partner in the gospel.

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I am thankful for the hand of fellowship offered to me by Native friends when they could have turned me away for the sins of my ancestors.

I am thankful for the people who cry out and speak and dance blessings over me as their neighbor when they could have cursed me.

I am sorry that the land I sleep on at night was yours and you were brutally forced to leave it to make way for my family.

I mourn it almost daily. I would have loved to be your neighbor.

If I knew how to pay you for it I would.

If I knew how to make it right, I would.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to walk with you when you were marched off your land.

I am sorry that the government made your children learn English instead of your native tongues and did not see the beauty of your artistry.

I am sorry for the culture loss caused by well-meaning, but ignorant missionaries who were supposed to be modeling the kingdom of God, the incarnation, and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit but instead modeled colonialism, carnage, and manifest destiny. Not just here but the world over.

As your sister in Christ I acknowledge my people’s sin against yours.

Even now, I sometimes still ignore you or put you on the back burner as an “issue for another day.”

And a day is like a thousand years. And you are miles away.

Time flies and you are still hurting.

But you are more than a mission field to me.

You are more than a target audience for the gospel.

You are worthy of new clothes and fresh food and fertile land.

I would like to think I would have stopped the racist legislation and stood between you and those who murdered you and labeled you savage for being angry at the fact that all you had was being stolen.

Even still, the thought haunts me that ignorance, distance, and fear would have kept me from doing that.

That it keeps me from doing that now…may God forbid.

Please tell me how I can help.

I want to hear your laments.

And it makes me cry, because instead of curses,

I hear you blessing me at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I hear you praying the way you know how, through dance, for my family and yours to be neighbors.

I hear your heart to reconcile, and may God help us if my heart is not broken by my peoples’ sin to refuse to admit that we need it.

You, the ones we injured are not simply forgiving me, you are blessing me and dancing over me like my Father in heaven does.

Maybe He dances your dance over me. The dance of forgiveness. It is beautiful.

I am thankful for forgiveness and mercy today between brothers and sisters.

And isn’t this what Jesus said, that it would be like hot coals.

May He touch it to the mouth of our nation and cleanse us from all forms of degrading talk

Consuming sacrifices of new wine and grain and lives laid down in humility and worship of the

True and Living God who sent His son, Jesus, forgave us our debts and set us free.

Making us pure and able to come up higher

To see rightly.

Your kindness draws us to repentance.

May God help us know how.

How does a nation repent these days?

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