February is Black History Month

Dearly Beloved,

Blessings to you on this beautiful February day! It's been such a joy to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather these last few days. Walks and trips to the playground have been an absolute delight. Super Bowl Sunday is this week. A special congregational meeting to discuss the possible sale of our property at 832 N Lincoln Ave will be on Sunday, February 14th. And Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our Lenten season, is just two weeks away, and I want to invite you to join me and three of our congregation's other ordained pastors (Revs. Nora Smith, Tracey Perry and Elizabeth Endicott) for a virtual Ash Wednesday worship at 7:00 pm on February 17th. 

February is also Black History Month. It can be easy to wonder "why do we need a month for black history? What about a month for white history or German history or Irish history?" Part of the reason for this is that most of the history that we learn in our country centers around people of European descent and leaves out much of the history and stories of peoples of other races and ethnicities. As someone wiser and with more historical knowledge than I said, "History is told by the victors." And all we need to do is look at our nation this last year to know that people of African descent cannot consistently count themselves among history's victors. 

Part of what we as a congregation will be doing during February (and continuing into March) for Black History Month is engaging in the "White Privilege: Let's Talk" Study put together by the United Church of Christ national offices. We'll gather from 2:00-3:30 on Sunday afternoons beginning February 14th to learn more about what white privilege is and to gain tools to reflect on and talk about how the social construct of race and the reality of racism have shaped not only our lives but also our faith journeys. You don't have to have any prior experience with these conversations to participate. Simply come with an open mind and heart and plenty of questions! All are welcome!

Finally, I want to share a little bit about one of my favorite 20th Century Theologians, Howard Thurman. "Thurman was an eminent African American theologian, author, educator, civil rights leader and philosopher.... His thoughts, writings and theology of radical non-violence shaped and influenced a generation of civil rights activists that included Martin Luther King Jr."* I love his work, because he connects our interior and exterior lives. Howard Thurman explicitly connected the importance of contemplation with action, of seeking God's love within to sharing God's love with others. He writes:

"Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Right now, it's easy to focus on the needs of the world -- there are so  many! But perhaps more than anything else, our world, our nation, our community and our congregation needs people who have come alive -- people who have chosen to be vessels of God's hope, peace, joy and love!

What makes you come alive? Go and do it!