Rev. Dr. Steven Yagerman
November 7, 2019
Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Last month The Rev. Dr. Rosalie Richards spent three weeks with us sharing her thesis work on Ubuntu Based Peace Practices. I want to thank her for offering us such a generous pastoral presence, insightful group sessions, with the added benefit of binding us closer together in community. I thought I would use this opportunity to share a follow-up letter from Rose to the congregation:
Hi my friends, thank you for our time together, and especially thank you for the final session. I am presenting it in two classes (no names, but my own learnings are huge—so thank you for helping me pass my courses. 😊)
If you were at the last session you know that we shared blanket negative statements with the goal of taking a moment to find a space within beyond our knee-jerk reaction followed by practicing merely saying, “I am interested in understanding that. Can you tell me more?” The theology behind this is that though it isn’t apparent at the moment, the other person is also God’s child and we are committing ourselves to keeping the conversation going if only because of that.
I asked Steve if I could continue the conversation in one more paragraph. (I see that I meant more than one. Sorry, Steve!) I have two thoughts to share.
Though it still is hard for me to wrap my head around it, Archbishop Demond Tutu said that to deny gender expression is as evil as apartheid was to people of color in South Africa. We did not explore that because we were addressing the way we see and deal with racism. Maybe we do not see suppression of gender identity as evil, I haven’t traditionally viewed denial of equal rights to women in that way either—but I am growing to see that it actually is.
I don’t mean we should respond violently. As Steve’s sermon pointed out, we are that unusual group of people whose call is to respond to evil non-violently. Neither are we called to accept any form of demeaning the image of God in another human.
I put that out for all of us to think about.
We are probably going to experience more of the unthinking limitations of people in the coming two months because Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to bring us into conversations with people who don’t share our viewpoints—the challenges of extended family and acquaintances. I would love to both hear updates on your experiences with “that is interesting and I would like to hear more” and to share mine. Maybe Steve and Heather can figure out a way that can happen.
Thanks again so much! You feel like home (in a good way) and I hope to hear from you, even though my Sundays will be at other churches…the life of a supply priest! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be glad to keep hearing your thoughts.