Lent is time when we refocus our minds, hearts, and souls on Christ and his loving sacrifice for us. These 40 days are meant as a time of centering and reflection as we approach the Easter season. It is an opportunity to reconcile our inward beliefs with our outward practices.
This season, I suggest that some of our Lenten disciplines be to lean in to God’s heart for racial justice. What if, instead of chocolate, we gave up some of our privilege? What would it look like to make radical sacrifice for the sake of reconciled body of Christ?
In addition to several good devotional resources available online, here are some practices to help you begin your Lenten journey for justice:
- Fast from dominant culture news media, instead seeking out news converge from the perspective ofmarginalized groups.
- Fast from sporting events and broadcasts that feature racist or appropriative mascots.
- Fast from fashion and culture magazines that promote narrow beauty standards.
- Fast from books by white authors, substituting for a broader library of choices.
- Fast from TV shows and movies that do not have robust representation of people of color on screen and behind the scenes.
- Fast from national chains and corporations, instead patronizing small local business, especially those owned by people of color.
- Fast from fuel. Ride public transit, taking the opportunity to get to know those that ride throughout the year.
- Fast from products made by companies with unjust manufacturing or hiring practices.
- Fast from being comfortable. Spend these weeks as a guest at another church. Join groups actively discussing tough issues of racial injustice. Listen. Just listen.
- Fast from material possession. What items have you accumulated that would better serve others in your community?
- Fast from fear. Re-examine who we are told to be afraid of and why. Consider how you might make your church a more welcoming space for folks often greeted with fear.
- Fast from your desire to be a leader, instead allowing yourself to be led and creating new leadership spaces for people of color.
- Fast from an attitude of saviourism. Partner with those around you who are already doing good work.
- Seek out local prison ministries and volunteer to serve in whatever way they deem most helpful
- Get involved with the DREAM Act movement and other immigration reform initiatives.
- Give time and money to university departments and organizations that support students, histories, cultures of otherwise underrepresented groups.
- Find out if your state has passed, or is considering a Kill-at-Will bill (aka Stand Your Ground), and get involved with the work already happening to combat such legislation.
- Mentor local youth through Boys & Girls clubs, or similar organizations.
- Call your state and local representatives and ask for changes in mandatory sentencing laws (look reps up here).
- Find out when local spring elections are taking place and volunteer to drive voters to the polls.
- Take time to scan names and faces of missing children who often get ignored by the media, and check back for updates to the lists.
- Commit to praying daily for issues of racial injustice.
- Pray that God’s hand would move in a mighty way against injustice in incarceration, stop-and-frisk policies, abusive deportation, Native rights,healthcare access, and discriminatory hiring practices.
- Pray that the Lord’s comfort will rest upon students and parents caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline, those behind bars, those struggling to find food or housing, those who travel unceasingly to to find work.
Personal change begins on the inside, but then bears fruit in what the world experiences from us on the outside. Many of the steps above will take you well beyond the Lenten season, requiring longer term commitments and sacrifice. But isn’t that what Lent is really about? Through power of Christ’s death and resurrection, we become transformed disciples, setting aside our own worldly desires to act as the hands and feet of God on earth.
Katelin Hansen (@BTSFblog) is the editor of By Their Strange Fruit (BTSF), an online ministry facilitating justice and reconciliation across racial divides for the sake of the Gospel. Katelin also serves as Director of Music at UM Church For All People, a multi-class, multi-racial church in an underprivileged neighborhood of Columbus, OH. This article was first posted on By Their Strange Fruit.
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