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Delivered By
Pastor Tim
Delivered On
June 7, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Central Passage
PHilippians 1:1-6
Given Over to Grace!

New Life United Methodist Church

“ Given Over to God’s Grace ”

New Life United Methodist Church
    6584 W. Howard City-Edmore Rd.
    Six Lakes, Michigan 48886

Pastor: Tim Wright

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Joshua 1:7-9
Philippians 1:1-6  
Acts 20:24
Acts 14:26


    Grace definition: 
        • “Absolutely free expression of the love of God finding its only motive 
            in the bounty of God.”   Spiros Zodhiates
        • “God's Gift of  Joy,  Pleasure,  Gratification, Favor,  Acceptance,  Love without
           expectation of return.”  author unknown    

Racism: Words and Prayer by Pastor Tim                 

Some of the words I share are adapted from the words of our bishop, David Bard, in a letter he shared this past week. 

    The  deep injustice of our society, has been made horribly and painfully evident in recent days by the video showing the brutal killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd was African-American. The police officer was Caucasian. The name George Floyd joins the names of other African-Americans recently killed by law enforcement or by citizens acting as if they were law enforcement, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery.  In the case of Ahmaud Arbery there were no charges filed until the video was released 2 months after the incident. 
    Racism is as virulent a virus as the coronavirus, and it is also lethal.  It is lethal in brutally public ways, as in the deaths of the individuals I’ve just named. It is lethal in quieter ways, in the effects of poverty, lack of educational opportunities, sub-standard health care, lack of access to healthy foods. These realities are rooted in our country’s history: slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, separate but equal, native American displacement, and trails of tears. The Social Principals of The United Methodist Church say that racism is sin, “that racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ… denies the redemption and reconciliation of Jesus Christ,” and “that racism robs all human beings of their wholeness.” 
    Because racism is deeply rooted in our history, it is also deeply entangled in our minds, our hearts, and our systems. It was brutally on display in the killing of George Floyd. It has been on display more stealthily in some of the recent protests in Lansing over the governor’s response to the coronavirus.  To carry Confederate flags while also toting assault-like rifle and effigies of the governor being hanged with a rope evokes every white oppression of blacks in our history, and to fail to recognize this indicates that racism has blinded us to our own complicity in its insidious persistence.
    While the effects of racism are felt by persons of color – African, African-American, indigenous, Latino, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and all, the problem is a white problem. It is we who are white who need to do the work. If looking at all this our hearts don’t break, we need a heart transplant.” Working to eradicate racism begins with a broken heart, a heart broken again and again by our failure to see and live toward treating all people as created in the image of God - what Scriptures describes as justice. With our hearts broken open, we can look inside and find those places where the virus of racism still exists, acknowledge them, and work to inoculate ourselves against their effects. 
    More than heart work is involved, vitally important as that heart work is. Anti-racism work is the work of the heart, mind, soul, and the body. I invite you to ponder the journey as described by Ibram X. Kendi in his book How To Be an Antiracist.   “The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an antiracist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies as an antiracist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequalities as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’  The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.” 
    Such heart work, such anti-racism work, is uncomfortable and difficult, and we would rather distract ourselves. One distraction could be to focus solely on the burning, looting, and rioting that has been a tragic and unfortunate part of the response to George Floyd’s death. It is tragic and destructive and should not happen. In some places, the rioting, burning, and looting have moved beyond angry response to the murder of George Floyd to destruction for its own sake. I am unequivocal in my condemnation of those who would use the utter tragedy of George Floyd’s death to further an agenda of destructiveness. Yet while we stand against such destruction, to focus on it alone would be a distraction from the need for white Americans, especially we who follow Jesus, to do the kind of deep soul searching needed to come to grips with endemic and systemic racism. We who are white cannot let ourselves be distracted.  Our own hearts and souls are at stake.    

Our vital work, especially those of us who live in the power and privilege of white persons, is to intentionally journey forward in anti-racism.  Anti-racism is life-long work for all of us, there is no finish line.   It matters not where we are at.  What matters is that we start the anti-racist journey and move forward, rather than backward.  To help us, I have  listed resources both in the notes of with this video/audio but also in a New Life UM CHurch facebook page.  
    As we journey forward in being an anti-racist the grace of Jesus Christ brings the transformation of our heart, body, mind, and spirits so we might also walk paths of righteousness and justice.  
    My hope is that we will continue to be in conversation together about the difficult topic of racism - growing together into the Body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ.  

    Let us Pray:  
    We pray for justice, accountability, and a transformation of our society through policies and practice.  We pray for every person of color who feels threatened and unsafe. We pray for an end to the destruction of lives, as well as to the destruction of property. We pray to be open to the ways we need to change.  We need your power to journey forward in becoming anti-racist.  Help us oh Lord.  

Lord In Your Mercy
Hear our Prayer. 

Bishop David Bard’s Post:

Resources for the journey of an Anti-Racist traveler - click link or copy/paste into browser*gHOwgAGNig71rUinF9GaRw


Children’s Message:   Paula Wright


        Goodness of God    -  CCLI Song # 7117726, Ben Fielding | Brian Johnson | Ed Cash | Jason Ingram | Jenn Johnson, © 2018 Alletrop Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) SHOUT! Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Fellow Ships Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Bethel Music Publishing

        Grace Greater Than Our Sin  CCLI Song # 31690, Daniel Brink Towner | Julia Harriette Johnston, © Words: Public Domain, Music: Public Domain, Sung by the choir from Pilgrim Mennonite Mission, video by S E Semonte 2015. 
CCLI License #   1657671    

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