Remembering, Repenting, Repairing
Beloved in Christ,
I will confess that I have never given much thought to national holidays. Like most Americans, I appreciate when they give me a day off, and I'm happy to enjoy many of the cultural traditions that grow up around them, but I've never really thought about why it matters that we give that distinction to a historical event.
Having watched Juneteenth be granted that official status over the past two years has given me a new perspective on why it matters. The diocesan office was closed in observance of the holiday, and the day off gave me space and time to read, reflect, think, and pray again about the utter horrors we as a nation perpetrated, often with the blessing of Christian churches, for nearly 250 years. It is clear that the designation is helping to keep the truth of what happened, and the need to continue to repair the massive racial injustices that remain, in front of us.
Of course, observing a holiday is only the smallest beginning of the work of racial justice and healing we are all called to engage for the rest of our lives. We have to keep examining the way that the racism written into the foundations of our society continues to shape everything from hiring practices to public policy to which voices are present in a given space to how we pray and live together as a church and so much more. There is so much work of remembering, repenting, and repairing that we are all called to share.
But holidays (literally holy days) are an important part of how we are formed as followers of Jesus. The life of discipleship is almost always a life of remembering, telling the truth, repenting, and allowing God's power of love to transform us, heal us, make us whole—to rebuild us. As Canon Stephanie Spellers shared yesterday:
Here is the reason why . . . or at least my reason: Because your heart should break and, for a time, stay broken, and you will learn to live with that sadness just a little longer than America has required of you, and it will make you stronger and more compassionate and beautiful. . . . . Why do we speak these truths? Why is there a holiday now dedicated to that practice? Because America is built on lies upon lies, mountains of them. And we want to rebuild a nation, the way St. Francis heard God calling him to rebuild the church, THIS time with truth and love at the foundation.
My best hope is that we are, all of us together, working every day to build and rebuild a diocese with truth and love at the foundation, so that we can join God, fully and freely, in the work of remaking the whole creation with nothing but truth and love for a foundation.
Grace and peace,
The Right Reverend Craig Loya
Episcopal Church in Minnesota