Hope in Dialogue
June 10

Before every ear was filled with mini speakers, and eyes were glued to screens, we used to talk to each other. In this place from a time long, long ago, we would pass the time in lines, on airplanes, and any other moment where we found ourselves waiting, talking to those who were in our same situation. There was an exchange, talking and listening, and I believe we were better for it. Now, we seem to live in a world filled with monologues. Monologues that we speak with our thumbs or our hands, behind the protective veil of a screen. We repeat monologues from our "teams" and the famous voices that say what we are thinking and feeling. Now I'm not saying any of this is wrong, but if we live in a world filled with monologues, is there any room left for dialogue? Do we still know the art of conversation, or are we more concerned with out-yelling our enemy or anyone who thinks differently than we do? Are we willing to sit down and talk, to move forward in a productive way or are we more concerned with winning? 

On Monday night I was lucky enough to be a part of a conversation that needs to be happening in every home, church, neighborhood, and community. Five members from Epiphany in Suwanee, who are African American, shared with us (dialogue) what it's like to be a person of color in this community and at this time. They talked about what their upbringing was like, how they are treated because of the color of their skin, and the horrific acts that they witnessed to people who look like them. It was a conversation that moved me to tears. It was a conversation that needed to happen. It's a conversation that needs to happen, over and over. We need more dialogue and less monologue.

One of the greatest losses in our monologue-laden society, is the loss of the messy middle. The awkward gray between the division of black and white (issues, not race). For example, if someone says, "Black Lives Matter!" there is no shortage of folks quick to respond, "All lives matter!"  Here's where dialogue comes into play. If someone is saying Black Lives Matter, they aren't saying that other lives don't matter, or that police lives don't matter, but they are saying that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, that the system is broken and change needs to happen. Dialogue is the method to get us there. If someone says they are "pro-choice" there is no shortage of people who are quick to condemn them for being pro-abortion or pro-killing babies. This just isn't the case and, absent of a conversation, we will never find that middle ground, the gray, where we stop condemning one another and instead work together to fix a broken system that continues to plague people of color in this country. If someone encourages law enforcement reform, they aren't advocating for a world without police or suggesting that all cops are racist, rather they are shining a light into a dark place that needs to be addressed. Dialogue is the vehicle that will get us there.

When's the last time you had a really good conversation, and not just with people you know really well, or those who think and believe just like you do? When was the last time you actually talked with someone that you thought was your enemy (because your "team" told you they were), only to discover that you actually both hope for change and a better world? When was the last time you took the risk to jump across the chasm that divides us and waded into the messy middle? We need dialogue again, we need to learn how to listen to one another again, to disagree and still honor each other's humanity. In a world divided by "teams" and politics and race, dialogue can save us more than yelling can. Jesus once challenged his audience, "Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear." May we take these words to hear. May we listen.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Chris

Last Published: June 17, 2020 2:11 PM