The Pharisees plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what do you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (Matthew 22:15-17)
Sometimes the Pharisees are right. We need to hear their voices, challenging us: “We know that you have good intentions. We know that you are partial to no one. But tell us, how do you actually behave?”
Our actions, we confess, do not mirror our intentions. Our words to others, about others, do not exemplify our best images of ourselves. In fact, we work especially hard not to see what our words and our actions reveal about us.
We who are white — I, one who is white — work especially hard not to see what our words and our actions and our life circumstances reveal about us. We — I — deafen ears and dim eyes so as not to recognize ourselves in the word ‘racism.’
It does not matter that we have good intentions; we confess that we still don’t get this. The harm we cause (intentionally or not), the relationships we build (always intentionally), these are what matter for reconciliation.
Forgive us, over and over, O Raging God of Justice. Compel our confession, not through words and prayers, but through open eyes and listening ears. Break our intentions and make us whole people, in healing communities.
To your glory. For the sake of your name. For the sake of one another.