Be The Bridge by Tasha Morrison

At Gateway Church in Austin, we continued our series called Voices.

Latasha-Morrison-speaker-photo

Tasha loves having meaningful conversations, encouraging people towards life outside of their comfort zone, and shows more grace than most people I know.

Tasha served as our Director of Operations at Gateway in Central Austin, and she is the founder of a non-profit organization called Be the Bridge where she now serves full time. In 2016, we spoke together on the topic: Love Where You Live: A Love Greater Than Ethnicity.

You can pre-order her book here!

Next Steps:

Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Tasha Morrison Be the Bridge Next Steps

Message Video:

Message Notes:

We were born into a broken and fractured world. We did not break it, but we can be a part of fixing it!

We want all to flourish – not just our family.

The work or reconciliation is difficult, but reconciliation is God’s heart for us! This work moves slowly. For some of us, you feel that we are moving too quickly. Others of us may think we aren’t moving fast enough. This is about living a lifestyle of reconciliation.

This work is above loving others well.

The message of Jesus is inclusive. Christ died for us to be reconciled!

The Truth that Transforms

An Example from Rwanda:

Tragically, the Tutsi genocide of 1994 took place in a nation that was considered 93% Christian.
The Reconciliation process begins with Truth in Rwanda. Truth creates unity and solidarity.

Kenyan-Rwandan word: Ubumuntu: Greatness of heart..means humanity, goodness, generosity and kindness. Those who don’t stand in complicity in the face injustice. For those who risk their lives to rescue or help those who were persecuted.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. – Ephesians 6:14

Our worldview needs to be built on the Word of God not the ways of the world.

All things that are legal are not always just. (Ex. slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, etc.).

We like to look down on the Pharisees for rejecting Jesus – the Truth right in front of them. Unfortunately, we often miss the truth right in front of us!

Jesus embodies all truth! Jesus is the TRUTH of GOD embodied. The Good news of the Gospel is about individual reconciliation with God, reconciliation with self, with communities and others.

I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 

The Importance of Historical Truth

Biblical Truth helps us understand why historical truth is imperative to the reconciliation conversation. When it comes to historical Truth, we’re often okay with a partial truth.  If we’re not starting from the same common memory this creates a barrier. America has intentionally erased, misinterpreted and created new narratives for history. These lies are intended to mislead and generationally misrepresent history.

The truth is that ethnicity reflects a unique aspect of God’s image.

Instead we have been sold a lie of indifference and sameness. Not one tribe or ethnicity can reflect the totality of who God is. It takes every tribe, every tongue and every nation. God is at work in every culture and every people group. When we begin to think of ourselves as better than another group or culture, we have placed ourselves as gods and idols. Only God is supreme. Any supremacy outside of God is idolatry.

Belief in the existence of absolute truth is foundational to the Christian Faith, as well as the belief in a loving God who knows and reveals truth.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as standards.” – Psalm 89:14

Many Christians approach the conversation on race from varying truths.

The first truth we must understand God didn’t create race. Race is a social and political construct. This doesn’t mean we take a color blind approach. Race was only created for the purpose of asserting power and maintain hierarchy. To pursue truth that leads us toward reconciliation we must identify and agree together on the facts. God can’t heal what we conceal.

God’s Love for All Ethnic Groups

Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people.  – Zechariah 2:11

The word “nations” in this text comes from the Hebrew word “goy” meaning foreigners, people who are ethnically different from the Israelites.

‘For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. – Acts 13:47-52 

The Greek word used for Gentiles, “ethnos” also means foreign, non-Jewish people group. This is where we get Ethnic and Ethnicity.

As Christians of Differing ethnicities, we share a common heritage and memory. We are reminded of who we are and whose we are through our salvation history.

Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary connects us to the family of God, connects us eternally to one another. Our Christian Faith is embodied by various communal acts. In Common Prayer, in communion, in baptism, we are reminded that all our stories are wrapped in and intertwined with God’s story. Not only do we share foundational memories and practices of faith, but we share and understand our personal and ethnic histories. To participate in the family of Christ alongside nonwhite people, the majority culture must acknowledge the perspectives of persons of color (POC). We must understand the truth of historical narratives. Without the truth of racial justice, which calls us to confession and repentance without it, there will be continued dissonance in our relationships.

Jesus can make beauty from ashes, but we must first recognize and acknowledge the ashes. We must understand, educate and teach the generations about our shared past. Beginning with a common memory of atrocities committed against POC in this country. If we are to be reconciled, we must begin with the full truth and recognize all the parts of our stories.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Truths in our history not taught in school:

Lynching Era: There are no documented reported cases of lynching for many cities and this was deliberate. 

Slave Trade Act: Prevention of slaves being imported to the US in 1807 which led to breeding humans.

Indian Removal Act: The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy.

Dred Scott Case: legal case in which the U.S. Supreme Court on March 6, 1857, ruled (7–2) that a slave (Dred Scott) who had resided in a free state and territory (where slavery was prohibited) was not thereby entitled to his freedom; that African Americans were not and could never be citizens of the United States; and that

13th Amendment: The 13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

14th Amendment: The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War.

Plessy vs Ferguson: This 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case upheld the constitutionality of segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. It stemmed from an 1892 incident in which African-American train passenger Homer Plessy refused to sit in a Jim Crow car, breaking a Louisiana law. Rejecting Plessy’s argument that his constitutional rights were violated, the Court ruled that a state law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between whites and blacks did not conflict with the 13th and14th Amendments. Restrictive legislation based on race continued following the Plessy decision, its reasoning not overturned until Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954.

Our Next Step

God deals with Israel as a collective in the old Testament and in the New Covenant God deals with the Church as a collective. We are connected what impacts one impacts the other. We belong to each other. Racism is bad for the oppressed and the oppressor.

Jesus teaches us to pray:
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10

 The work of racial reconciliation requires us to listen, unlearn damaging stereotypes and lean into hard and difficult dialogue that may cause fragility and anger.

This work calls white people to listen, learn, lament and leverage.

Reconciliation beckons us into conversations and relationships with people who look different from us.
Reconciliation calls us to take a deep look at ourselves.
Reconciliation requires a surrendered heart.
Reconciliation requires listening to the voices of the marginalized and a heart of empathy.
Reconciliation requires transformation that only Jesus can do in our hearts.
Reconciliation requires dismantling of secular worldviews we have embraced.
Reconciliation calls you into the awkward, the painful, the tension, the resistance…all for the Glory of God.

A Liturgy of Lament

Just as the Israelites were called to remember we must have a common memory and develop a theology for lament.
We must lament our history by first acknowledging it.

Leader: We acknowledge that we stood by when the dwellings of our neighbors were cast down, and we ignored the cries of the innocent. (Jeremiah 9:19) Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: Lord, we acknowledge we have not learned to do right; we do not seek restorative justice that benefits all. We have not defended the oppressed. We have not taken up the cause of the fatherless or pleaded the case of the widow (Isaiah 1:17). Instead, we have mocked and punished the poor with our partisanship and apathy. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We lament that we stood by as systemic and institutionalized racism became founding pillars and structures in America and within the church. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We have allowed agendas of an empire to become prominent within your church. We understand that empire aims to take and oppress. We have replaced your kingdom with an empire mentality. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We have formed and developed church structures and denominations while excluding the voice of your global church, due to racism and racial segregation. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We acknowledge the racial hierarchies and structures of privilege many have benefited from and many have been oppressed by. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We have ignored the cries of children because they were not our own. We have discounted [T, okay variation from “ignored” in the previous sentence?] the pain of mothers because they were not our own. We have turned a blind eye to the affliction of Brown and Black men because they were not our own. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We have replaced your supremacy with idolization of our nation and racial identity. Lord, have mercy.
Group: We lament.

Leader: We have not required justice, we have not loved others well, and we have not walked in humility in our brokenness.
Group: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: We cry out to you, our God and Redeemer, as the only one who can save us from ourselves. Show us our blind spots. Don’t let us hide from you in our shame and guilt. Restore us to your perfect union that can be found in Jesus Christ. Lord, show us how to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you (Micah 6:8).
Group: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Group: Lord, with deep sorrow we lament.

In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, let it be so!

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