The season of Lent offers us an opportunity for Spiritual Disciplines for our Christian faith. As we observe Lent, we focus on the sacrifice of Christ, praise and worship of God, and a deeper intimacy with God, to name a few disciplines. It is a time of repentance and spiritual fasting.
A couple of years ago, while on an immersion trip in the midwest, our group returned to the airport for the flight back home. One of our colleagues, who was the only African-American female in our group of about 25 people, was stopped and searched. In contrast, the rest of the group was processed through the security area. I distinctly remember her facial expression, the look of frustration that spoke volumes – “here we go again.” For her, it was a generational expression. Whether she was profiled or not, we know it happens. We know that racism exists.
I visited with her later and we talked about this experience, which unveiled other instances in her life’s journey of being followed around by clerks in a clothing store and moments she was made to feel “less than.” My friend was stressed. I believe there is a uniqueness of what I call ethnic stress, ethnic fear, or ethnic anxiety when it is birthed in racism. As an ethnic person who has experienced racism’s wrath, I feel at times I am walking in parched places, and my spirit thirsts to celebrate the joys as a garden watered by the Spirit of His love. These joys for many in our nation today are suppressed by racism. There are growing numbers of people today that are doing DNA background tests and are discovering that they have several cultural and ethnic backgrounds within their DNA. I wonder how that discovery could help mold our theology by affirming that we are all God’s children made in His image.
In this Lenten season, Lord, help us submit ourselves as followers of Christ to sing with joy, “I Am Thine, O Lord!” Lord, help us to live out the charge of “Dismantling Racism” for the sake of the Kin-dom.
Rev. Kenneth Locklear is the Gateway District Superintendent