Most of us want to be good people. We want to do good. We want to make it clear that we love our fellow human beings.
But, the issue of racial differences makes that very difficult. How do you show love to your black friends in a way that convinces them that you are for real, and that they are for real to you?
We see killing in our streets, of a black man by a white man who is an officer of the law, and we feel remorse over the hatred behind that, and our heart hurts, unbearably. And soon our minds are measuring where we stand on the issue of the hour which seems to be “racism” with its hopeless convictions of your superiority to people of any other color, based on white vs black. That what you feel, no matter what you say or do, is deeper than anything you can change. That you are incapable of being a true friend, or of honestly caring about those different from you.
Words don’t seem to help. We are all condemned to be what others assume we are, because of our white color.
A dear friend of mine died some weeks ago. He was black. He called himself “the old hymn singer.” He came many times to Colonial Church, to sing the hymns of faith. He walked up and down the aisles shaking hands, singing to our largely white congregation. Our people loved him.
He and I traveled to India to be part of a crusade put on by our friend Yesu from Kijayawahda. Tom Tipton called us “the Salt and Pepper Team.” He sang and I preached. He was a pied piper as men lined up after the service asking Tom to lay hands of blessing on their children. Tom was moved by that. For him, the Spirit was at work in all that. He and I shared a room in a small hotel near the Gospel Hall – for two weeks.
One morning we left for the Crusade – until Tom stopped us. “Aren’t we going to read our scriptures before we go?” He reminded me, “I didn’t grow up with the scriptures. I learned the gospel from the hymns my mother sang.” We went back and read the Word as we’d done every other day.
As Tom sang, in the Crusade service that night, he walked around the stage and down into the vast congregation.
I preached from a message I’d written out and had given before, at home. That night, in our room, Tom said, “Arthur, what were you thinking of tonight? You need to get out from behind the pulpit and show them your knees! Let loose!”
A precious lesson I learned from my Christian brother. He told me like it was.
It was an honor to be part of the “Salt and Pepper Team” with Tom. We grew old together, and now he is gone. My friend and teacher.
Up north, in White Earth, is Father George Ross, retired Episcopal minister. An Ojibwe. He once said, “You know, we are the invisible people.” So hard to hear. but long ago he let himself become my friend. He invited me to lead worship with him in the little church in Redby on the Red Lake Reservation.
He put his Episcopal robes on me to share in the service. When his wife Angie died, almost a decade ago, he asked me to preach at the funeral.
George knows the tears of the “Trail of Tears” in his people’s history. He knows the injustices of the White man. But he chose long ago to be my friend. A man dear to me to this day.
Both Tom and George – and Yesu – chose the way of friendship- Christian friendship, friendship at the foot of the Cross, as the pathway to friendship with this old white guy.
Jesus had said, long ago, “I call you friends.” I cherish that, and have been blessed by that. The way through the barrier walls of today, and through the hurt memories that are there.
Perhaps all over again, that old way, is the new way to begin again. Taking the Way of the Cross.
Love you, friends.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES