Lection Connection

February 7, 2021: Coming through Captivity

From Sandra Rooney


In February, the U.S. observes Black History Month, a time to celebrate achievements, but also a time to remember. At the memorial service the evening before President Biden’s inauguration, he stressed that “to heal, we must remember.” He was referring specifically to remembering those who had died from the COVID-19 virus this past year, but he also talked throughout his campaign about “healing the soul of America.” Black scholars, historians, and clergy have been reminding us that we cannot heal our society’s longstanding ills without first remembering. To start, we must remember the tragic 400+ year-old legacy of slavery in this country, and elsewhere. Add to that the legacy of the abhorrent treatment of native peoples in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Indeed, it seems that the sins of the fathers have passed on to our sons and daughters.


Analysis of the remarks during and after Biden’s inauguration and the articulation of the challenges facing the new administration continue. It is often noted that if Biden’s choices for his cabinet and other senior officials are approved, many will be firsts – first Black, Latino, Native American, female, openly gay and transgender – making his cabinet the most representative in American history. We celebrate firsts because they signal progress and representation for people who have not had power in the past. Role models are important but political scientists remind us that for true change you have to change structures at all levels.


Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste, The Origins of Our Discontents, noted in a recent interview that after the January 6 riot at the Capitol Building, after everyone else had left the scene, the cleaning crew came in, most of them Black, “the people assigned to the subordinated caste for 400 years, since before there was the United States.” To heal the soul of America requires first that we recognize the whole of our history and remember. Wilkerson added, “There’s no single pill that you can take for something that is this longstanding. It’s on the systems level at multiple levels. It’s economic. It’s social. It’s political. It’s labor. And it’s employment. It’s health care system, criminal justice, education, law enforcement. It’s everything.”


The United Church of Christ in the U.S. is urging congregations to use a new adult curriculum, “White Privilege: Let’s Talk,” designed “to invite church members to engage in safe, meaningful, substantive, and bold conversations on race.”


Explore…Mark 1:29–39

  • What did the “miracles” described in Mark’s gospel mean for the lives of those he “healed”?
  • What are the ills that need healing where you live?
  • What remembering needs to happen?
  • What is your nation doing to right wrongs of the past to promote healing?
  • In what way might you share in such remembering and healing?
  • What is your faith community doing to contribute to the healing needed today?



Merciful Creator, in the words of an old Methodist hymn, “Where cross the crowded ways of life, where sound the cries of clan and race, above the noise of selfish strife,” may we hear your voice of grace, and be strengthened to do the hard work of remembering and responding. Amen.


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