Removing Barriers

The line could not be more clear. While the tables had been set up in a big square, no one sat on the ends.  This made it visually unmistakable that there where two distinct sides on this issue. And while not literally present, there seemed to be a tall wall dividing the two sides. My ‘simple’ assignment was to get folks talking – and to avoid silent stares or, even worse, shouting.

At a different meeting last Saturday – a Meeting of Elected Bodies (MEB) – we were blessed to have Shawn Moore as our guest speaker.  Shawn is a church planter for The Beloved Church, an East St. Paul multi-cultural, multi-racial, intergenerational congregation, and teaches out of the Anthropology and Reconciliation department at Bethel University.  We invited Shawn to come share his story and wisdom as a teacher as we continue to live into ECMN’s focus for this year of Engaging God’s Mission of Racial Reconciliation.

Shawn shared the following about reconciliation with us:

“Reconciliation is the process of removing barriers that hinder authentic relationships.”

He then went on to explain a four step process to move towards reconciliation:

Step one: I see you (your full humanity) I am because we are (who I am in community)

Step Two: Improvisation (requires variance of kind, ‘yes and’)

Step Three: Creating a new code and new language (all must agree upon the new way)

Step Four: Practice (actually do the work)

Back in the day when I was trying to provide a concrete explanation about sin to young people, I often described it as a wall: a wall between us and God, a wall between ourselves and one another, or a wall between who we are and who God is calling us to be. As long as we are on one side of the room and others are on the other side of the room, with a wall between us, we are out of relationship. The ministry of reconciliation that we are called to, as Shawn shared with us, is to begin to take down the barriers that hinder authentic relationships.

As we live into the Epiphany season, what better way for us to make Christ known than to be working to bring down the barriers that divide us?

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