Sunday, February 21 – Written by Rev. Maya Landell
A New Identity – Matthew 5:1-16
For the next few weeks we will listen to the wisdom of Jesus’ famous teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. You will hear familiar passages and notice the soundtrack that plays from music you’ve heard that takes themes from Jesus’ famous teachings. It is in these teachings that Jesus challenges the status quo and turns our normal status and social pyramids upside down. This is what has been happening for me in the past few months since George Floyd was killed, and video footage of his murder awakened a new chapter in the uprising that gave voice to experiences of racism, inequality and violence not only in the United States, but in my own country, my own neighbourhood and my own church.
This is a journey that isn’t easy, as the words on our church sign for months proclaimed Black Lives Matter: We Lament. We Listen. We Learn. We Act. Not only have I read voraciously and listened to audio and video experiences that broadened my vocabulary, and how I see and hear, but a brave person shared their story of feeling unseen, isolated and ignored as a person of colour attending worship at Islington United Church on more than one occasion. I am grateful for their courage to be in dialogue with me: to listen and to say I’m sorry while at the same time receiving friendship and further education. I am part of a system of norms that have hurt others. I wear my whiteness, my privilege, and I ask forgiveness for the times I’ve mistaken one black visitor at Islington United for another person, or not invited, not reached out and walked by on the other side.
If I am really serious about the new identity that comes with being a Christ follower, then I must choose ways of relationship, solidarity, reconciliation. I am committed to knowing the teens in our Thursday night basketball program by name. I am committed to supporting and knowing the diversity of business owners in our church neighbourhood by name. As I made the first phone call in response to hearing someone’s story and hurt, I knew I would never be the same.
Those people who sat on the grass, in the multitudes on the hillside, listening to Jesus also received an invitation to a new identity. If they accepted this new identity, everything would change for them. If I accept this new identity – everything will change for me. Something around us is rising for the good. We are awakening to a new day for us and our children and their children. The Spirit is calling us to seek Aliveness and be alive to this global uprising of justice and goodness.
Let’s make this road by walking with Jesus leading the way.
Where Christ walks
WE WILL FOLLOW
Where Christ stumbles.
WE WILL STOP.
When Christ cries,
WE WILL LISTEN.
Where Christ suffers,
WE WILL HURT.
When Christ dies,
WE WILL BOW OUR HEADS IN SORROW.
When Christ rises,
WE WILL JOIN THE UPRISING WITH JOY.
When there are so many ways;
HE IS OUR WAY.