O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until
our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
This is the Thanksgiving for the Diversity of Races and Cultures found in the Book of Common Prayer. It nicely captures the biblical understanding that we are each made in God’s image. And if that’s the case, which the Bible assures us it is, then the diversity of races and cultures in our world are part of God’s vision for humanity, a beautiful multi-colored tapestry in which each color is vital. Remove one thread, and the entire work of art is diminished.
At the heart of our calling as individual Christians and as this Christian community of St Thomas is the work of reconciliation. We are called to be agents of God’s healing grace in a world so badly in need of it. This call means that our circle of fellowship and compassion must always be moving outside our boundaries and borders and tribes, which are artificial barriers in any event, to embrace all God’s People. Every single one. We have no more important work to do. And there is an amazing payoff! As we widen our circles of fellowship, our own loves will be immeasurably enriched. A monochromatic world is pretty boring at the end of the day.
Just because our call to be agents of God’s healing grace in this fractured world is a sober and serious one doesn’t mean it must be somber one. Humor is also healing! And so it was on a recent Thursday evening when nationally renowned cartoonist, social activist, father and educator, Keith Knight to joined us for a presentation and panel discussion on racial reconciliation. With laughter and thoughtful discussions, we spent the evening considering how to build loving, inclusive, and resilient communities in a diverse range of social, cultural, and political contexts.
Four panelists were with us to respond to Keith and offer their own perspectives: Heidi Kim, Officer for Racial Reconciliation of The Episcopal Church, who lives in Bellevue, The Rev Mercedes Tudy-Hamilton, Senior Pastor of Primm AME Church in Rainier Valley, who has preached at St Thomas, Dwight Jackson, Case Manager at Congregations for the Homeless, who provided a perspective on the racial implications of homelessness, and Cindy Atkins, Medina City Council representative, who spoke about white advantage and how unconscious she, as a white person, has often been about its pernicious effects.
The panelists shared various resources for further study and discussion. Among those resources are:
Click here for Robin DiAngelo’s syllabus for white people to educate themselves.
We at St Thomas have a lot of learning and work to do in order to play our part in healing and reconciling relations among and between the various and diverse people of God. And because of the great diversity in which we live here on the Eastside, we are in a unique environment to do this good work. So we must equip ourselves, by prayer, study, and action. One very positive step we can take is to deepen our relationship with our fellow Christians and friends in the Primm AME community. There will be more to follow.
When the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, those who were touched by the fire began to speak in a multiplicity of languages and tongues. They moved outward from their previous tribal boundaries and shared the Good News with the whole world. The same call comes to us here in this place and in this time. May we be agents of this uniting fire on this day and always.