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+Bishop Thomas Aitken's

Pastoral Message

6/4/20


  I can't remain silent. None of us can. White privilege is a cancer in our Country. Racism is a cancer. Violence is a cancer.  Precious child of God, George Floyd was yet another victim of this systemic evil system of white privilege, racism and violence.   George Floyd’s brutal death at the hands of evil systemic racism was not a rare act in this country.  It has happened in this country since its inception and continued on from there.  It hides itself under the sinful idea that one group of people, whites are superior to all others.  Blatantly and subtly whites have been told they are smarter and more important than any other. 

 All over the Country, and world, people of color have had enough.  Their protests for years have been systematically ignored just as their rights and dignity and God given beauty have been.  And so it is not a surprise that anger is spilling out everywhere. Anger and hurt are twins.   I affirm the vast majority of protesters whose marches and rallies have been rightfully organized with strength, pointed messages without violence that expose evil.  I also affirm those police officers and governmental leaders who have not bowed down to the idol of racism and white privilege.  But I understand why violence erupted in many of these protests. And I still condemn it as I do white privilege and racism. 

 Standing in front of a church, and holding up a Bible after igniting more violence is not an act of leadership from our President.  It is the very opposite.  It is evil.  And it is blasphemous. And while I’m at it, I need to also take my own inventory on racism, how I participate in it and  how it also benefits me as a white male in this Country.  And I need to repent. 

 When you and I were baptized into Jesus’ life – as I tell our Confirmands regularly -our lives were claimed for courageous, loving deeds for the sake of the world. We were claimed for a life that courageously stands against evil, and for the Biblical word, agape, (love) which seeks the neighbor’s good, and puts it even before our own good. Jesus defined the neighbor, as everyone, no exceptions.  That’s the essence of Christianity dear members of our Northeastern Minnesota Synod. We are to live this life not on our own power, which will not be enough, but by the strength of Christ who now lives in us through the Holy Spirit that you and I and Christians all over the world just celebrated on Pentecost all over this Country. 

 You are the light of the world.  A city built on a hill cannot be hid.  No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”                 -Jesus (Matthew 5:14-16) >

 In two weeks, on June 17, the ELCA will commemorate the 5th anniversary of that horrific shooting when a young white Lutheran man, shot and killed nine black members at a Bible study  at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston. Take part in this.  Congregational resources for this commemoration:  https://elca.org/emanuelnine.

That’s only the beginning.

May the Spirit agitate us into the good and courageous and organized works of love that focus on this particular sin of racism.

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