5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. -Genesis 15:5-6
We are familiar with God’s promise to Abram (later Abraham) that his descendants would be numerous as the stars in heaven. By the grace of God we are included in that number through Jesus. Generations, ancestry, and descendants are an important part of the biblical story and an important part of our faith. They are a reminder that our faith, life, and witness are not just about us and our time, but that the grace, justice, and love of God stretch both back and forward in time. Ours is a faith that spans generations and we fall short when we forget that.
The generations who came before have handed on to us much that is good, true, and beautiful and we have a responsibility to hand those things on to future generations. We also have been given things by those who came before us that are imperfect, broken, and sinful. During this last week of May one of those sinful things has been on display once again for all to see and that is the sin of white supremacy. This sin is one that does not belong to the church alone, nor does it belong to America alone. In thinking about this sin I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine from the novel the Fellowship of the Ring:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Racism is not a sin we are guilty of starting, we did not introduce it into our society. It is a sin that we have the responsibility to make sure we don’t pass on to future generations. The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is just the latest in a long line of injustices that have been perpetuated against African Americans and all People of Color. We find ourselves in a position like Gandalf says, to decide what to do with the time given us. I for one do not want to pass on the injustices that my ancestors gave to me, but rather to build on those things that are good, beautiful, and true which they passed into my care. We do not do this alone, we have just celebrated Pentecost, where God gives the Holy Spirit to the Church, to guide, council, convict, and comfort them.
So may we walk this road together, in the company of the Holy Spirit, and work to end those injustices, like White Supremacy and racism, that have been present for generations. Let us pass on to those who will walk this earth and this path of faith long after we are gone, a world that is closer to the kingdom of God.