Tag Archives: slavery

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Philemon: The Identity Conundrum

Editor’s Note: This is the written draft of a sermon that I delivered at Kaleo Covenant Church. The alternate title I considered using was: “‘Who'” & ‘What’: When To Use Which, How & Why.” To set the mood, I walked out to one of my favorite songs, which I reference later in my introduction. Hope you enjoy it.

 

 

It’s September, a time for a new start. It’s back to school time, yes, but it’s also a time when our home lives and routines tend to engage again. Summer travel season is usually over by September. Football is on TV, it’s the start of a new financial quarter… et cetera.

September is my favorite time of year, in part because my birthday is in September, but also because I think it’s a time for optimism. I have a lot of great September memories of starting school, starting a new job, moving to a new place… I have such a history of hope that comes alive in September. Also, “September” by Earth Wind & Fire… that will always be my jam.

Part of the hope that I tend to carry when starting a new season is that it represents a new start. Especially if you’re starting up at a new school or a new job, you’re getting a chance to make a first impression all over again, which means that you’re no longer shackled to the baggage that you carried before. If, in your previous life, you were known as a jerk, or a screw-up, or a loner, or bossy, or any other persona that you would rather leave behind, September is a time when you can start anew, and become the person YOU want to be, instead of the person that others have known you to be.

Today we’re going to be looking at a Scripture passage that deals with someone who has the opportunity to create a fresh start, and to examine questions about his identity. So in a little bit, I’m going to ask you to pull out your Bibles and read along with me.
But first… it’s important to define some terms that are important when discussing identity.
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To the (Probably White) Person Who Says It Shouldn’t Be About Race

 

So, in light of the Michael Dunn verdicts — several guilty counts of attempted murder, but a hung jury on the count of murder in the first degree — there is a resurgence of conversation on social media about the ways in which the criminal justice systems, particularly in the state of Florida, are heavily biased against young Black men.

In particular, I’ve seen scores of Black people lamenting this disparity, usually with some emotional combination of sadness, anger, or, most common, a detached bitter sense of resignation.

And in response, when discussing the particulars of the case, I’ve seen several White people say things like, “well I just don’t think it should be about race,” or “skin color has nothing to do with it,” or something along those lines. It’s not that they’re defending Michael Dunn’s (or before him, George Zimmerman’s) actions, but they’re saying “it’s just a tragic situation, period, and race shouldn’t factor into it.”