Stand As You Are Able
I’ve been thinking this week about the words we hear – well, we used to hear – during our in-person communal worship, just before saying together the Nicene Creed or singing the closing hymn for example, the words “please stand as you are able.” These words affirm to us that we are all at different places in our physical lives, and that while we recognize what tradition or custom is asking us to do, we may not be physically comfortable or capable of doing it. These words also affirm that while we may have limitations, we are still welcome – even expected – to do the thing that others may be doing while they are in a different physical posture than us – like praying or singing.
What those words are saying to us, then, is that when we are bound to do a thing together, there is always more than one way to do it, and that when we all do that thing together, each to the extent of their own ability, the result is always going to be more effective, more powerful, more rewarding, than it would be if many of us remained silent or otherwise excluded ourselves. This is the essence of organized religion and of any faith community.
It is with this thought and those words that I offer to you now an incredible and important document recently created by the Episcopal Bishop of Missouri and already signed by numerous other Episcopal Bishops (including our own), and other faith leaders and members of many Christian denominations.
The document is called A Covenant to Root Our Racism. It is formatted in a “wherefore/therefore” style, first clearly detailing the failings of our Church and us all in respecting the dignity of every human being and then, in the same clear detail, listing with particular regard to racism and white supremacy the things we covenant, or promise, to do as we “seek to amend our lives to more fully reflect God’s dream of Beloved Community.”
There are eighteen separate covenants listed. I want you to read and consider each of them. And then I want you to consider the words “please stand as you are able.” Wherever you are in your life and your faith, I know there are some things here that you can covenant to do, to the best of your own ability, to help “dismantle the sin of racism.” The very last covenant allows you to include your very own context-specific act!
And lastly, I want you to sign the Covenant to Root Out Racism and then stand as you are able in lifelong commitment to acknowledge the image of God in every person.
The complete Covenant and a place for you to sign can be found at the link below. It begins with this verse from 1 John 4:20 –
“Those who say, “I love God” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.”
Have a Blessed Week!