I've been thinking about the word restoration a lot lately. It's a word that brings to mind healing, repair, making things right, and wholeness. As we pursue racial justice and reconciliation, what would it look like to put our focus on the idea of restoration?

The word restoration first jumped out at me during a sermon Pastor Scott Dudley preached on May 16.  He said, "God's kind of justice is always about restoration, not retribution and revenge… restoration of what was lost or stolen or broken or hurt or wounded for individuals, but also for entire communities."  What a beautiful way to think about justice!

By Heather Hedlund

Paul often compared the Christian life to running a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." As we've learned in the last few months, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. This is the race he has assigned us to run, and it's not a sprint, it's a life-long relay.

by Heather Hedlund

I don't know about you, but I was really happy to say goodbye to 2020 and ring in a brand-new year. So many things in 2020 felt off-course, and the new year brings a chance to set a new course, a new trajectory.  The next step in our exploration of racial reconciliation is all about changing course.

We've been using the acronym GAPS as a framework for the important elements of racial reconciliation.  The G stands for "Go to the person you're in conflict with," and we talked about the importance of having relationships with people of races or ethnicities different from our own.  The A stands for "Admit your part of the conflict," and we looked at the importance of telling the truth about our history. The P stands for "Pray," and we've spent a lot of time on this section. 

Have you ever had someone apologize to you, but you weren't sure they really meant it? Was that apology healing for you, or did it leave you angry and confused? I think John the Baptist may have felt this way when the crowds came out to be baptized by him. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming, he said, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:7-8) I think he was skeptical of the sincerity of their repentance. He challenged them to follow up their statement of repentance with actions that proved they meant what they said. We show the sincerity of our repentance when we work to fix what's broken.

In my journey to understand and try to live out racial reconciliation, there has been one step that I think was key to my progress: admitting my own racism. I remember vividly the moment it became personal. For several years, my understanding of the persistence of racism had been growing through personal relationships with people of color, through news reports, and through magazine articles and books, and I was starting to recognize that racism was a real thing that people of color were experiencing regularly. But I hadn't yet implicated myself.

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