Kendra Grams

Kendra Grams

“Nothing will bring George Floyd back. Nothing will undo the trauma to his family or to our wider community — especially to our Black friends, family, and colleagues.

“Consequences matter, but let us not mistake a verdict for God’s liberative justice.”

These are the opening paragraphs of a statement released last Tuesday, following the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, the regional church body to which I belong.

Only a few hours later, the Rev. Traci Blackman, associate general minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for the United Church of Christ, posted these further thoughts on God’s justice: “My understanding of justice is rooted in Hebrew scripture. The Hebrew word: tsedek translates as justice. It also translates as righteousness. True justice is the restoration of right relationship between God and humanity and right relationship among humanity.”

The quest for tsedek — the liberative justice, the restoration of right relationship with all, that God has always desired — continues.

So, the question I’m holding in prayer now (and daily) is … what’s next? What is the next thing, the next learning, the next action of solidarity, following the lead of anti-racist people of color to which I am called (as a white Christian pastor)? And I invite you to consider prayerfully what’s next for you.

Because, if there is anything I’ve learned in recent years, it’s that the journey to God’s desired justice (to God’s dream and vision for the wholeness of creation now and always) requires lifelong, daily spiritual practice — and for me that practice is rooted in the example of Jesus Christ, who sought justice throughout his earthly ministry.

Thus, I’m committing to dig deeper still into the ways in which my learned attitudes and behaviors, and the patterns and policies of the communities of which I am a part, harm communities of color rather than furthering God’s desires. I’m committing to the difficult, disorienting work of unlearning patterns of harm, and learning patterns (attitudes and actions) of repentance, solidarity, repair, and restoration.

And I look to the day, when by God’s grace and loving power everyone will truly “be safe” — especially communities of color; when our housing, education, and other social systems will offer flourishing for all people; and when there will be no more names to hold up and no more people lost too soon to mourn.

For, as my presbytery’s statement concludes, while “Dreams of a better way to live together may seem audacious at this painful moment in our common lives … we worship a God who does powerful, audacious things. So we hold onto this hope, a fire that burns in our souls, unsettling us from our previous ways and fueling our conviction as we move forward.”

Dr. Kendra Grams is pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Hudson.

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