Preaching on racism

August 21st, 2017

Have your preached on racism recently? It is a touchy subject, especially in the reality of events in Charlottesville and many other tragic displays of racism and hatred. In his recent publication, Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism, Bishop Will Willimon has several helpful suggestions for speaking about race in the church. Here are some of his suggestions:

“Preaching that confronts racism:

• Speaks up and speaks out
• Is not silenced because talk about race makes white Christians uncomfortable
• Allows the preacher to confess personal complicity in and to model continuing repentance for racism • Reclaims the church as a place of truth-telling, truth-embodiment, and truth enactments
• Sees American racism as an opportunity for Christians honestly to name our sin and to engage in acts of detoxification, renovation, and reparation
• Refuses despair because of an abiding faith that God is able and that God will get the people and the world that God wants
• Narrates contemporary Christians into the drama of salvation in Jesus Christ and thereby rescues them from the sinful narratives of American white supremacy.”

[from Who Lynched Willie Earle? pp. 126-127]

He also says this to encourage preaching about racism:

“While preaching can’t do everything, God has chosen preaching as the weapon of choice in the divine invasion and reclamation of Creation…. Preaching is one of the means through which God defeats our natural narcissism and gives us more interesting lives than if God had refused to speak to us.

“When there was a bombing of a church or the burning of a civil rights leader’s home, Martin Luther King Jr. would show up with his entourage, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, clutching his KJV Bible to give, not a press conference, but rather a sermon.”

[from Who Lynched Willie Earle? pp 91-92]

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