Saturday, October 3, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: A Call to Repentance

Shared Responsibility and Repentance
A devotional by Stephanie Bankhead

“I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” 
– Daniel 9:4-5 (ESV)

My ancestors emigrated from Italy to the United States. I am a fourth generation American on both sides of my family. They earned a living farming in northeastern Colorado. 

My ancestors knew what it was like to be the brunt of prejudice. In the early 1900’s it was not unusual for Italians to hear mocking ethnic slurs like "wop" and "dago." To my knowledge, we never owned slaves.

Blindly, I believed that I had nothing to apologize for relating to racial tension. My relatives didn't take part in the Atlantic slave trade nor the owning of slaves. Why should I apologize? 

Recently I was reading the book of Deuteronomy. In chapter 31, Moses is telling the people that he knows how rebellious and stubborn they are. Reading that my thoughts jump to, “Hey that's not fair! It was their ancestors who did those things, not this group of people. All those complainers from the exodus are all dead, this is a brand new generation.”

That was the beginning of the collapse of my alleged innocence. Pouring through the Scriptures, it became obvious that God demands we take responsibility for national sin. There are many examples of similar situations like we read in the Bible books of Daniel and Deuteronomy.

We in America have sinned. We have not acknowledged nor admitted that we have and continue to place people in positions of status and importance. And as long as we are the ones on the winning end of the balance, we refuse to see the sin. As Christians, how can we read Paul's letter to the Galatian Church and allow this sin to continue?

God’s Word (The Holy Bible) says in Galatians 3:28 (ESV),“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

God's Word ushers in conviction and I know in my heart this is true. So what is my next right move? Where can I start?

I'm perusing books, watching movies, reading novels about and by the Black community to gain their perspective. I want to understand. And I desire the dismantling of the heinous crime of oppression.

I also apologize to my dear friend, a woman of color, for the struggles that she and her ancestors and her children have had to navigate. Admitting that I have disregarded the white privilege that epitomizes my life. Offering my time weekly to listen and gain an understanding of her life as a Black woman. My plan is to do more of this, to increase our meeting to add more people. It is my belief that as we get to know each other’s stories, our empathy and love toward one another will grow.

Now, like Daniel, my heart asks of the Lord forgiveness for our nation's sin of oppression. I include myself. We have plundered our brothers and sisters of color. We categorize people by social status and power. We are not at all living Paul's admonition in Galatians 3:28.

Imagine a world where all God's children were flourishing. No oppression. No hatred. No privilege for one people to the detriment of another. We can have hope for that world. God wants us to see with our eyes. We must look into the eyes of Black people and see the pain of their ancestors residing in their souls. 

God wants us to understand with our hearts that He loves all people. He created everyone in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27) God wants us to turn, repent from our previous sin of oppression and hatred. And He will heal us. (Isaiah 6:10; John 12:40)

Let’s pray: O Lord, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. Heal our nation. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen!

Author Bio:
Stephanie Bankhead is a Bible teacher, mentor and author of several Bible studies. 

Stephanie has worked at a local church as the Women’s Ministry Leader since 2013. In 2018 she became an ordained Teaching Pastor. Before that, she worked as the director of a very successful youth volleyball club. 

What both of these experiences taught her is that women are still little girls inside. Deep down we are all still asking the same questions, “Am I capable? Am I attractive? Am I enough?”

Stephanie delivers sermons and speaks at women’s events on a multitude of topics. Her favorite topic is teaching people what the Bible says about their own identity in God.

Stephanie lives in Amarillo, Texas with her husband of 32 years. They have a rescue pup who barks too much, and a bird abandoned when her two grown children flew the nest. Her four grandchildren are the apples of her eye.

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