I was privileged to be at the church tonight. This was the fifth in our eight part Lenten series on outreach and justice. Tonight Elise Harding Davis was our speaker and the topic was discrimination. As an African- Canadian this woman spoke from a great place of centeredness and justice. We were given much to think about as she related stories of her childhood, her heritage and her work as well as her community service and outreach. It was clear to me listening to her that we all have to seek to find ways to become more aware of black history. I personally intend to visit the Black Historical Museum of which she is so proud. There is so much of Black History that has been denied or at least suppressed. Tonight I learned about Elijah McCoy (1844-1929). He was a Black Canadian inventor of a lubrication system for steam engines. Supposedly, after failed attempts by competitors to make counterfeits of his lubricant, the phrase "real McCoy" was used to refer to his authentic product. How often have you or I used the phrase “real McCoy” without a thought of where it came from?
Outreach is so important. Tonight we learned yet again that justice is in many ways about awareness. Fear is a terrible thing. Fear drives hate. Hate brings discrimination. If we make our decisions about people based on their race, their orientation, their gender, their creed, or any other defining factor we fail in our baptismal covenant. Today we live in a world where there is so much violence and hurt based on how people are different. It is incumbent on all of us who profess the Love of Christ to put an end to fear based decision making.
1 John 4:17-18 in the Message Paraphrase sounds like this:
“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”
I really like the idea of taking “up permanent residence in a life of love.” Prejudice, racism, and discrimination are fueled by fear. “There is no room in love for fear.” We as the people of God have no need for a life of fear. Let us banish fear, hate and prejudice. How do we do that? We begin by naming our ow fears and insecurities. We biin by longer participating in inappropriate conversations, kokes and jestures that out down those that the world has labelled different, or that we have relegated to the fringe.
One of the great gifts of being in Montreal for a few days over the weekend was taking in all of the diversity. I measure most things with food. In a few days alone I ate Lebanese, French, Asian, Hebrew, Vegetarian, Italian, Mexican, and God only knows what else ( I love to Eat). All that to say that the City is great because it is so very multicultural.
The gift for us in this life is in the diversity. The joy is in the uniqueness that is in each of us. The Love is found in the many faces of our common existence. Tonight I was so pleased to be with Elise tonight. We have a great opportunity to reach beyond ourselves to love beyond a world that allows too much hate.