Dear Church,

Part of the nature of providing virtual worship is that everything is completed several days in advance, in order to allow time for post-production editing and uploading to the platforms where you can view and participate in the worship service. Unfortunately, that means that Sunday’s worship service reflects the state of the world on Thursday morning, rather than Sunday morning.

This week, a lot has happened between Thursday morning and Sunday morning. I grieve that my sermon and our prayers do not speak more directly to what we are experiencing today. So, I am writing in an attempt to bridge the gap between the sermon I preached on Thursday, and the one I would wish to preach today.

The wounds of racism are too many to count, but a new attack has split us wide open. For many, the pain is simply too much to bear. Have you ever had that feeling? When anger wells up inside you so strong that it feels like a volcano erupting? The times when that feeling is the strongest for me are in discussions or arguments when I feel completely unheard or dismissed—when every attempt to speak is met with dismissal, rebuttal, interruption, or when I am simply ignored. We are living in the midst of the eruption of similar volcanoes that have been building for 400 years. I share a portion of this outrage, but I recognize that I cannot fully understand the feelings of those people of color who have been victims of injustice for centuries.

I believe we have our own part we are called to play in these events. This is not somebody else’s issue—it’s all of our issue. Each of us took a vow to uphold our Baptism by resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Each of us was Baptized in the Holy Spirit, who issues forth from Jesus, through us, in order to bring the world from brokenness to wholeness. We must speak our support and take whatever action we can to vocally and publicly work for justice, not just now, but for the long term. We have been working at this for some time; now is another moment for us to take a step out of silent complacency into active anti-racism.

As an act of solidarity, Brad and I, with our children, will join in a peaceful march at the Capitol today. The event will begin at 1 pm, not long after we will have finished our time of worship. For us, this will be a continuation of our worship—an echo of the prayers that we pray for justice, an extension of the offering we make for the sake of God’s Kindom, and a response to the Word we hear proclaimed—that wherever Jesus finds locked doors and fearful people, he gives the Holy Spirit to release us, setting us free from the sin that keeps humanity from flourishing. Black lives are constantly held back from that flourishing, not just when they make the news, but in every instance when their cries are dismissed, their experience is undermined, and their voice is ignored. It must not be so.

I will show up today not to lead, but to follow the leadership of my siblings of color, to listen to their voices, and to stand with them in support and solidarity.

We are still in the midst of pandemic, and there is still a highly contagious disease going around Austin. We are not organizing a church group to participate in the march; this is an individual choice. If you choose to participate, I urge you to join us in taking every possible safety precaution. I expect that our family will be far from the crowd, even if it means we are near the perimeter fence at the Capitol. We will wear masks and keep more than 6 feet between us and others. With those precautions, we will be taking as little health risk as possible. Perhaps you need to take the precaution of not coming downtown. I urge you to find another way to express your solidarity and support for our siblings of color.

In our reading today, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus sends us with the creative, life-giving wind of the Holy Spirit to go and enact that world that God dreams of. I pray that you will receive that Spirit and let it carry you forward into this day.

With tenacious hope,
Pastor Taylor