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  • Writer's picturePastor Nancy Raabe

Declare These Things

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority; let no one look down on you. (Titus 2:15) We hope, we pray that the anguish of this past week has been the groaning of labor pains (Romans 8:22) out of which new hope for the future is being born. In a speech yesterday in Philadelphia that issued a call to action for every American with a conscience, Joseph Biden said, “We can’t, we can’t leave this moment, we can’t leave this moment thinking that we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t. The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism.” We all know it. We see it with our own eyes. Yet the thought of how to deal with it is so overwhelming that our resolve quickly collapses. A heartening pastoral letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops two years ago defined racism as that which "makes us see the 'other' with suspicion or to attribute negative characteristics to an entire group of people. This evil manifests itself in our individual thoughts, and also in the workings of our society itself." It concludes, "As Christians, we are constantly called to examine our own hearts and consciences for how we might contribute to or break down racial divisions, intolerance, and discrimination." Racism is systemic in that it flows, unimpeded, through the circulatory system of our entire society so smoothly that most of the time we're not even aware of it. Somewhere yesterday I saw racism described as a virus. That seems about right, and over the centuries countless black Americans are dead because of it. Paul's pastoral letter to Titus issues instructions for the behavior of elders and bishops in the young church in Corinth. He was addressing individuals, and we may receive them as individuals as well, we who are immobilized by the massiveness of America's systemic illness. Paul lays out the groundwork a few verses earlier: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all" (Titus 2:11). Declare these things! Examine your hearts. Be tireless in your exhortation. Exert the authority that comes from the love of God, and in this way no one can look down on you because God's love is the most powerful force of healing in the universe. Yours in the power of hope, Pastor Raabe

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