Invitation to the Table

A year or so ago our church invited Nikki Lerner, a culture coach, diversity teacher, and amazing musician, to talk to our staff and worship team.  She spent the day talking to our staff members about multiculturalism in the church and that evening, some of our worship team gathered together to hear her speak about multiculturalism in worship.

I was a part of the team that gathered that evening.  We started off in a small conference room, sitting around a table and eating desserts.  There weren’t enough chairs around the table so when I saw Nikki and some other leaders enter the room, I got up and stood so she could take my seat.

Later after a beautiful, holy moment of worship, Nikki laughed ironically about how she had been talking to the staff all day about how churches often stick to the majority race and don’t cater to other cultures. Then she showed up this evening and there literally wasn’t a seat at the table for her.

Table 082316Without thinking I said, “I got up so you could have my chair.” To which she replied, “I didn’t see you.”

I regretted immediately saying anything.  I talk a lot, but I usually don’t want to bring any attention to myself.  I ruminate over things I say for days.  My heart still pounds when I think about the last post I wrote on racism. Can I use the word black in that context? Was I not considerate enough of other people’s feelings?  Who am I to say these things or make these assumptions or to stand up for things I don’t understand?

No one.  I’m no one.  But I’m not going to wait until I understand everything and live perfectly before I start standing with my black friends and family.

I learned a valuable lesson that night.

Imagine you were in a room full of people.  There is one empty seat at the table and 10 people standing around waiting for a seat, but you were the only one in the room of your race, or gender, or religion.  It is likely that you wouldn’t take that last seat unless someone offered it to you, right?  I wouldn’t.  I probably would still decline after an invitation. But that’s me.

Leaving an empty chair at a table full of white people is not enough.  It’s time that we, as white people extend an invitation to our friends of color.  Invite people in the minority to the table.

Being kind is not enough.  The one thing that will change the world between races is relationship.  (<– Click this.)

 

 

When I saw him from afar, I thought he was a monster.

When he got closer, I thought he was just an animal.

When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human.

When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.

-African Proverb