Repentance Begins on Your First Day

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To the baby cradled in his mother’s arms,

Feel the warmth. Soak in the affection.  Nurture your belonging in this beautiful world.  Gaze in her eyes and receive her fierce devotion.  This is your birthright.  This moment is your true identity as beloved divine creation.

I dream for you a world where all others embrace you the same way your mother does now.
I dream for you a world where you may flourish in freedom of body, soul, and mind.
I dream for you a time and place where others may perceive your tender heart and your endless potential, just by the sight of you.

Even as your mother gazes upon you today, she is preparing for the talk.  She will one day have to sit you down on the porch and speak to you about the world as it is.  Her heart will twist and turn in her chest as she places a new identity over this first one – black male in America.

You have been born into a culture that is devouring black males.  Trapped in its ignored history of injustice disguised as economy, this culture you have entered is following blindly an inherent seemingly-intractable bias as pervasive as the air we breathe.  The mere color of your skin will incite unchecked fear, excessive force, divisive rhetoric, and unacknowledged hatred.

On this day as you are born, let me begin my repentance as a white woman.  I grieve the realization that, knowingly and unknowingly, I have participated in this deceitful, unjust, murderous society.  I have gained from its value system.  I have implicitly adopted its hierarchy and assumed its posture, all while insisting that I was different.

All I have to do is put on the “right” clothes and show up at the homes of the elite to be a delight in their eyes.  All you will have to do is put on the “wrong” clothes and show up on the “wrong” corner and you will be a danger in their eyes.

I have bought as true the greatest offense, the lie that the powerful proclaim – this is the way it is and always will be.  As a minister of the God of liberation, my repentance must proclaim that God’s dream for the world looks nothing like this.

I would ask for forgiveness but that seems too bold and too indicative of cheap grace.  It would assuage a consciousness that must remain inflamed if I am to repent fully.

Accept, instead, my love for you.  Accept my life-long journey of repentance.  Grant me grace and judgement as I learn how to reject the dominating culture and to embrace God’s truth that black lives matter.

Feel the warmth. Soak in the affection.  Nurture your belonging in this beautiful world.

May my actions, thoughts, and words always tell this world that your life is precious in my eyes.

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