Friday, December 11, 2020

Devotional for Third Sunday of Advent

Third Week of Advent

I am the pastor of New City Church (@ grownewcity), a United Methodist Church just a short walk away from where the racist murder of George Floyd occurred in South Minneapolis. What the news didn’t cover, though, was that this is a neighborhood historically saddled with highway pollution, industrial factory smog, and the exhaust of diesel engine trucks that drive through all day and night. Decades ago, families in the neighborhood—many of which are Somali, African American, or Latinx—started noticing that their children were developing asthma, and that the seniors in the community were suffering health impacts of dirty air.

This is the difference between police brutality and environmental justice: police brutality shows a horrifyingly acute, filmable instance of a police officer kneeling on a man’s neck as he says, “I can’t breathe.” Environmental justice shows the economic and environmental decisions of a whole city invisibly kneeling on the necks of communities of color over the course of decades, creating a whole generation that can barely eke out “I can’t breathe.”

But I believe in a God who wants people to breathe, a God of breath. When God breathes life into us, it is a blessing for flourishing. God speaks a word, and with those syllables we rise. When Isaiah 55:11 says:

“so is my [that is, God’s] word that comes from my mouth; it does not return to me empty. Instead, it does what I want, and accomplishes what I intend”

It means that God doesn’t speak in vain. God doesn’t say “choose life” (Deut 30:19) just for us to construct societies that stifle the poor; Jesus didn’t say “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” only for us to create structures of racism that try to steal—one way or another—the breath of people of color. God’s word is powerful, and when God’s word moves through us, we become powerful. And I do believe that once we can live into this truth, day after day and community after community, we will welcome in a world where everyone can purely and simply...breathe.



As we slowly breathe in, we remember that you restore and heal us.
As we slowly breathe out, we remember that we can pray a blessing upon the world.
While we still have breath in our lungs, God, show us how to live more humbly, advocate more fiercely, heal more tenderly, and love more broadly.

All this we pray in Jesus name, Amen 

Rev. Tyler Sit (@TylerSit) is the pastor and church planter of New City Church, a multiethnic community in South Minneapolis. He is the author of the upcoming book tentatively titled, Staying Awake: the Gospel for Changemakers (early 2021). New City has been fea- tured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Minnesota Public Radio, and more. When he’s not working, Tyler likes to dig into his Chinese heritage and go for hikes with his boyfriend.

Fog photo by David Kepley

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