This Sunday I was invited to preach at Soma Eastside in Issaquah, WA, a suburb located just east of Seattle. Paul Dean, the lead elder of the church and friend of mine, has been compelled to do something to help lead his people into a thoughtful, Christ centered view of the Gospel and the way it should shape our view of race.
He knew that doing “the talk” with his church would help, but only so much. He knew responding to the events of the moment wouldn’t be enough, it it would even be effective at all. Then, after reading about Seattle Pacific University professor and Associate Pastor of Teaching at Quest Church, Brenda Salter McNeil, share her fears as a Black person in a Christianity Today piece he felt compelled to respond. He felt he had to do something.
The first thing he did was ask me would it be weird if he reached out to Salter McNeil to show solidarity with her. I said “it might be, but do it anyway.” (insert your favorite “lol” gif) I genuinely thought the act would be a good step in fostering true family love in the Seattle region for one another as well it being a good gesture to show solidarity between a White man and a Black woman. It was a good step, but he knew he needed to do more. He had love for his sister across the region, but he needed to love and lead the people in his community, in his congregation.
Compelled by the belief that the Gospel is the answer to all of our ills and that the church should be overt in its rejection of the evils of racism, Paul and Soma Eastside created a Gospel & Race liturgy to lead the congregation through. And its not a one time “we did the thing” event. The church does this scripture reading and response EVERY WEEK. I was there when they did it. And let me tell you with no hesitation – IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL. It was powerful. An absolutely stunning view of scripture and humanity and a wonderful way to change people for the better with with the Gospel.
Paul sent me the reading and response they use each week and has given me permission to post it here. May it inspire many other churches to do something similar as it communicates masterfully, especially in a predominantly White context like Issaquah, that God dignifies all human beings. Its shows everyone that despite being a cultural minority you can be at home among people who look different than you because you are among the family of God.
Read: Gen. 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
Response: God created human beings in his image, and thus all people share in divine dignity
Read: Gal. 3:26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Response: No race, gender, or ethnicity is greater or more valuable than another.
Read: Eph 2:14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.
Response: The good news of Jesus Christ has the power to break down racial and ethnic barriers
(btw, if you’re interested in hearing the sermon I preached, you can check it out here. 0:00-3:00 Paul is introducing and praying for me and Reunion Seattle, 3:00-7:00 I’m telling my salvation and ministry journey, 7:00-11:45 I’m talking about Reunion from conception through today, then the sermon starts at the 11:45 mark. If you want to skip straight to the sermon, just fast forward to the 11:45 mark and jump in!)