A Message from the Rector: Uncovering White Supremacy

Today is the feast of the Epiphany, marking the end of the Christmas season. The word Epiphany means “to reveal” or “to uncover.” I had originally planned to go live today from Church to say some prayers to bless chalk, so that folks could come by our office entrance to pick up that chalk and use it to bless their homes, a centuries old tradition at the Epiphany. But today another house, the US House of Representatives is under siege by rioters who seek to terrorize our democracy.

For some of us today’s news comes as a surprise, a shock. For others, less so. Today is an Epiphany, an uncovering. What we are seeing play out on TV, and on the internet, is an uncovering of a sickness that has been festering on our shores for centuries. The current president and administration have emboldened racist, xenophobic, and other bigoted ideologies, and the actions of elected leaders that egged on and supported the rioters deserve to be condemned.

But these ideas didn’t start four years ago. These four years have been an uncovering of an ugly reality present in this land for centuries. We don’t need to simply reckon with what is happening today, but with the 400 years that have lead to this moment.

Before I moved to St. Louis, I served a church in downtown Washington. I still have dear friends and parishioners who live and work on capitol hill, as staffers, as reporters, as clergy. I pray today they are safe. I pray today for our country, for our nation’s capitol, and the people I know and love who make it their home.

The Epiphany is a day for an uncovering, but it is also directional. Friends, we get to choose which star we follow. I’ll say more about this in my sermon on Sunday. But as you see the scenes playing out today, if you are shocked today, I want you to get curious. Ask yourself, “what can I do to challenge our nation’s legacy and present reality of oppression?” How can I fight \the suppression of the votes and voices of black citizens, women, differently abled folks, queer people, immigrants, and people of different religious traditions? What can I do to enforce their voices and votes?” If you are angry, in the spirit of the Epiphany, ask yourself, “What road will I choose next?”

I’ve blessed the chalk offscreen today. It felt more important to use this video to say these few words. I’ll say more, we’ll pray more this Sunday. For now, would you pray with me this prayer from the The Book of Common Prayer?

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this
land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as
their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to
eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those
who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law
and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of
us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

– Book of Common Prayer page 826