1. The construction of a dividing wall

As we grieve the innocent deaths of our Muslim sister and brothers in Christchurch and condemn this atrocity, we also need to critically reflect on the notions of power that shaped the gunman’s actions, and how we can contribute to new notions of power.

In a confronting opinion piece in the New York Times this week, Jamelle Bouie notes that the accused Christchurch gunman released a manifesto in which he “made frequent references to ‘white genocide,’ the idea that non-white immigration and mixed-race relationships constitute a genocidal threat to ‘white’ people.”  Bouie’s article is confronting in that it reminds us that the notion of white, western superiority is a legacy of our 19th and early 20th century colonial past:

If … western democracies have a recurring problem with white power and white supremacist violence, it’s because they grow out of habits and assumptions that are still embedded in our societies.

Most disturbing here is that the underlying assumptions and habits around “white power” are “still embedded in our societies.”  Even more challenging, we are unknowingly formed and shaped by our dominant sociocultural structures, believing these assumptions about our culture’s power and in-habit and express them.

And so, a dividing wall is constructed between cultures, religions and race.

2. Breaking down the dividing wall?

In Ephesians 2:14, we read that Christ has broken down the dividing wall between us.  This verse points out that the dividing wall creates hostility.  It relates to the cultural wall between Jewish and Gentile Christians.  Each cultural group is embedded in its own assumptions and habits, its sense of superiority and power.

What does it mean for us that Christ has broken down the dividing wall?  Ephesians 2:14 reminds us that Christians remain embedded in their cultures, erecting dividing walls!

“Breaking down”: an intentional spirituality process: observation, dismantling aspects of ourselves and use of cultural power, and to
re-imagine a new identity and “self”.

3. Lenten spirituality, dismantling power

How do we express our culture in our daily lives?  How we understand mission?  How do we understand and use forms of power?  This involves observing what type of “self’ or identity we occupy and express.  Our “self” is shaped by our culture and sense of worth and power.  I suggested that there is much to learn about ourselves as we grapple with the way we think about and express mission:  1. Mission as outreach:  we approach the other presuming we know what they need; this is power-over, one-sided;  2. Mission as relationship:  we form the relationship, yet on our terms, without assessing
power-relations;  3. Mission as equals:  listening, learning about the other and ourselves, discerning God is both with them and with us; shared power, humility, collaboration.

                        Rev Vladimir Korotkov �