Me, Black Lives Matter and the NAACP?

Revelation 7:9 – “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

Never did I think I would do what I’m doing this Friday: attending a peaceful protest and a prayer vigil for George Floyd in Patuxtent UMC’s parking lot. This has been organized by the Calvert County NAACP. I’ve attended a prayer vigil before, but never a protest.

The Samaritan Woman - John 4:1-42

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, Jesus Mafa Project

Here were my thoughts as I decided to attend:

I don’t have to understand everything. I would hope that everyone can see the hostility towards racial minorities, but I can’t fully wrap my head around the concept of “systemic racism.” I’ve read the numbers about unemployment, incarceration and drug arrests, but how are these direct a result of racism?  I don’t know, but I need to be willing to listen, learn and pray.

I don’t have to feel comfortable. Some things I’ve read on Black Lives Matter’s website trouble me. I don’t see anything about the importance of fathers, and how fatherless children are more likely to suffer poverty and commit crime. I see no stated goal of reconciliation. Talking about the sins of the past with no intention of forgiveness runs contrary to the Gospel. There might be people wearing BLM shirts Friday night, so I must be willing to listen, learn and pray.

I need to practice what I’ve been preaching these past few weeks. The book of Acts tells the story of Jewish apostles taking the Gospel to the Samaritans and Gentiles. They went outside their property to people who were different from them. Christ was proclaimed, and everyone – Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles – was transformed.  The Scriptures are clear that following Jesus includes crossing social barriers.

This Friday at 5pm I’ll be in the parking lot at Patuxtent UMC, and I’m not sure what to expect. This prayer vigil might give me an opportunity to listen to and learn from the black community, many of whom are my brothers and sisters in Christ. I may not encounter such possibilities at a single event.  Crossing social barriers might mean going to more events like this.

Even if I don’t have the opportunity to listen and learn this Friday, I will have the opportunity to pray.

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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