2020 - An Uncomfortable Opportunity

2020 - An Uncomfortable Opportunity

Author: Rachel Davis
September 29, 2020

2020 has been an uncomfortable year to say the least. In mid-March, the rhythm of our lives was abruptly disrupted beyond anything most of us could have imagined due to COVID-19. Not only was our congregation not able to congregate, we also said goodbye to our beloved Pastor Bill. Many of us were forced to work from home, some with school-aged children by our sides because schools closed. Retail shops and restaurants were shuttered. Our calendars were cleared of social engagements.  All of this change was difficult and uncomfortable as change often is. And then in late May when the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery resulted in protests around the country calling for racial justice, things got even more uncomfortable.  

We were forced to acknowledge the deep racial and economic disparities in our country. Statistics show that COVID-19 has killed Non-White people at disproportionately higher rates; Black and Brown people are twice as likely as Whites to die at the hands of police officers in this country; and Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are more likely to live in poverty than White Americans. Yet so many White people cannot accept these numbers as a true reflection of American society, because it’s not our experience.

The Danger of Assumptions

Often we make assumptions about why these inequities exist. We assume people are in poverty because they aren’t working hard enough or that people are getting sick because they are making unhealthy choices. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz teaches that when we stop making assumptions, we can focus our attention on the truth, not on what we think is the truth. It is time for us as Christians to seek the uncomfortable truth. The first step to finding this truth is to acknowledge that institutional racism is real. The next important step we will have to take is to explore the role we, as individuals and as a church, play in maintaining these racist systems.

Hope in Unlearning

Doug’s message on Sunday taught me a new term: kenosis, to empty out. It brought to mind a quote I read recently, “Progress requires unlearning.” I feel we are being called to unlearn, or empty out, what we think we know about race and racism in America in order to replace it with the truth. The good news of all of this unlearning is that, like the empty tomb was the fulfillment of God’s promise of resurrection, the unlearning will leave room for the promise of a new and better post-COVID “normal.”. It will provide opportunities for us to put Christ’s teaching into action.

I imagine that what emerges from this uncomfortable unlearning is a safe and just community where the last are made first. Where every individual life is valued as precious, and systems are put into place to uplift the most vulnerable. A place where we care for neighbors outside of our zip code as much as we care for the ones next door. It’s a place where we see and honor the image of God in every face no matter the complexion. It is within our power to create this new normal.

The Choice is Yours

It all comes down to the choices we make. What will you choose? Will you choose to get uncomfortable in order to unlearn and discover the truth? Will you choose uncomfortable actions that break down racist systems in order to empower “the least of these”?

You are invited to take a first step and join our church in a discussion around race:

In recognition of Indigenous People’s Day (Columbus Day), you are invited to a congregational discussion on race as a launch to our Matthew 25 Church commitment. Hosted by the Justice and Advocacy Committee, this is a racism 101 discussion. We will discuss racism vocabulary, have time for breakout discussions, and learn more about the Matthew 25 commitment. It will be the first of ongoing weekly discussions, which will be held on Sunday mornings from 9-10. We invite you to come with open hearts and minds, recognizing that we aren’t used to speaking about race…while equally recognizing the vital importance of learning how to do so. Monday, October 12, 7-8:30 p.m. – come step into brave space with us! Please RSVP to the church or to rebeccabryan@me.com to receive the Zoom link.



First Presbyterian Church
20 King's Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
(856) 429-1960