All kinds of things can break: toys, plates, hearts.
Some, like Humpty Dumpty, can’t be put together again. But with some we must try.
“How do you mend a broken heart?” the song asks.
In Black History Month (as well as all year round), we ask how to mend the broken collective heart of a world still torn by racism. Whether obvious and raw or implicit and unintended, racism continues to have the impact of bringing brokenness into personal relationships and corporate undertakings – even in the church.
I won’t enumerate the ways that racism tears at the fabric of our society and church – that would risk re-injuring the injured, perhaps inauthentically co-opting another’s story. But I do say that Christ calls us to do the repair work of seeking reconciliation with all our neighbors in all our diversity. God calls us to break down the walls of racial division in our personal lives as well as in our laws and institutions.
Every year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place in January. It is a global, ecumenical call for churches of every stripe to pray together Jesus’ prayer that we all might be one (John 17:20-21). This year I prayed with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis and others for the unity of the church and humankind.
Every year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the United States coincides with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. It comes just before Black History Month. The overlap explains why, these days, Disciples call ourselves a wholeness movement rather than a unity movement. Our prayer for wholeness envisions the unity of the church and the healing of humanity – both. Our prayer for wholeness is a cry for the world to know God’s shalom.
Pro-reconciliation/anti-racism is a part of the work of a movement for wholeness. When Jesus prayed that we all be one he was talking about more than centuries of doctrinal divisions that keep us from feasting together at an open Lord’s Table. He was praying for the healing of all humanity. And praying for all his future followers to be an active part of the “putting back together.”
“We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” May we be part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer that all might be one – put back together in Christ – across whatever brokenness we may encounter.