Compassion Journey: Repentance, Week 3
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
Repentance is an important spiritual practice in the confessional life of a Lutheran Christian. Many Sundays, we participate in confessional liturgy, admitting that we have sinned in ways known and unknown to us.
This past Sunday’s worship and Lenten study, we were challenged to deepen our understanding of repentance, changing our hearts and minds to reflect Christ’s unconditional love. Having a repentant heart, may help us heed the Spirit’s beckoning to discover those unknown sins. As a community, we pondered this by studying the concept of microaggressions.
Microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges that send hurtful messages to certain individuals because of their group membership. What’s difficult about understanding microaggressions is that most of us don’t even realize our offense in the moment. Our intent wasn’t to be harmful, but what we say can leave a person guessing about what you really mean.
Several examples include:
Microaggression example: Whistles and catcalls at a woman as she walks down the street. Hidden message: Your body and/or appearance is for a man’s enjoyment or pleasure.
Microaggression example: (Spoken to a person of color) When I look at you, I don’t see color Hidden message: Denying a person of color’s racial and/or ethnic experiences.
Microaggression example: (Spoken to an Asian or Latina person) Where are you from? Where were you born? Hidden message: You are not American. You are a foreigner.
Table groups shared their own experiences being the recipient of microaggressions and their own innocent complicity in speaking microaggressions. Together, we explored how we can frame questions that truly show we care about another person’s story. We also determined that we are going to make mistakes. Again and again. Practicing repentance is to be open to learning what we don’t know about others and leaning deeply into Christlike compassion for those offended, hurt or excluded whether by us, the Church, or the larger community and world.
The third sentence of a working welcome statement for Risen Lord is: Thus, we welcome all, believing diversity makes us better together as we worship, one family of believers.
How might learning about microaggressions grow our capacity to live out this belief that diversity does, in fact, make us better together? What would learning more about this look like?
The Holy Spirit is stirring up curiosity and conversation among us as we talk about these things. It takes humility to be open to learning about what we don’t know. Doing so in community is not as scary as you might think. We know that Christ is present in those conversations, growing us, growing our friendships, growing our compassion and growing our welcome for others, especially you.