Faculty Speaker: Rev. Chris Rice
Lectionary Texts: Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 104 [1a, 24-35]; Romans 8: 14-27; Acts 2:1-14a, 22-47
Reflections on the Lecture
Today in our plenary session, Rev. Chris Rice began our conversation about reconciliation by highlighting figures (Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Saint Paul) who showed that “another way is possible” in the face of injustice, war and crushing opposition. By looking at the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, Rev. Rice emphasized the centrality of God as the source of reconciliation: “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us” (v. 19). Rev. Rice pointed out that though the actions of individuals are significant, healing conflict does not begin with us, it begins with God. We learned that, as Christians, reconciliation is in our DNA; through the Holy Spirit, we are called to expand the “we” of the church, to eat and read and pray with those who challenge us, with those who are difficult to be around. Rev. Rice explained that central to our reconciliation journeys is remembering, that is, telling the stories of injustice and oppression and asking “what went wrong?” After watching several videos about individuals and communities that are engaging in reconciliation journeys, we discussed how we might be people who are formed differently, formed by boundary-crossing, truth-telling love. We ended our time by discussing the concept of Pilgrimage and how it differs from Tourism and Mission. We learned that pilgrimage is a sign that points beyond itself, to a truth greater than the mere act of traveling, and a process in which strangers become companions, where we learn to listen and to encounter a God that is not safe, but good.
“Reconciliation is never bigger than the person nearest to us each day who is difficult to love.”
- Rev. Chris Rice
“I know that evil will not take the last word. Never. Never.”
- Maggy Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom in Burundi
“There are some things that God can only teach us by moving our bodies onto strange ground.”
- Rev. Chris Rice, on pilgrimage
Today was a very full day at DYA. After our usual schedule of plenary, worship workshop and lunch, we gathered in Goodson Chapel to prepare for our pilgrimage to the American Tobacco Campus. After readying our hearts and minds through prayer and song, we traveled to American Tobacco Campus to move our bodies onto a strange ground outside the campus that we’ve known for 2 weeks. Once there, we were given the “corporate tour” in which we learned about the revitalization of ATC from tobacco factory to multi-use complex that now houses offices, restaurants, cultural events and social gatherings. We then read and discussed some very different narratives of women who worked in the tobacco factories in the 1920s. We then heard from Ray, a black man who worked at the factory in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout all of this, we encountered stories that made us uncomfortable, angry, confused, guilty and mournful. When we gathered back on campus, we discussed our feelings and reactions to the pilgrimage; in much confusion and angst, our fitting response came in songs and prayers of confession and lament.
After dinner we gathered in worship to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There, in the worship of our gathered bodies, everything was not solved, but it was good. As the people of God, we are thankful that it is not by our power, but by Christ’s that all things are made new. Thanks be to God for another day to struggle and laugh and heal with one another. For tomorrow, there is hope in the risen Christ….and rest time.
Submitted by Amy Greene, Mentor