Walking Into the Unknown, Together (3) The Gift of Unsettling Truth

A Last Supper (2009), by Lorna May Wadsworth
The Art of Hope through the Practice of Lament
Baptist Union of the UK

You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. Acts 3:13-14 

This is a hefty dose of finger pointing. Some of us have grown up with a lot of spiritual finger pointing, and this might feel uncomfortable. Passages like Acts 3:13-14 have also been used to fuel antisemitism. And that ought to make us uncomfortable, too. In Willie James Jennings’ words, “The killing of Jesus mutated over the centuries into an unrelenting accusation against Jewish people.”

But, notice what Peter is doing. Peter is speaking to his own: his kin, his people. He is speaking unsettling medicine to them and holding them accountable for their actions. Later, in verse 17, he acknowledges that they did not know what they were doing when they killed Jesus. But nevertheless, they were complicit in his death: in a moment of horrific groupthink, they collectively demanded that Jesus be crucified. People who disagreed stayed silent, while others enacted the aggression with fierce self-righteousness. Peter is asking his people to face their betrayal in the same way he faced his own betrayal of Jesus.

In the final episode of Hillary McBride’s podcast on spiritual abuse, Holy the Hurt, she interviewed Mark Charles, the co-author of a book called *Unsettling Truths. He talked about how the church, toxically pickled in white supremacy, sanctioned the Doctrine of Discovery. He talked about a specific type of traumatic stress response experienced by perpetrators called Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS)—a response he often noticed in white people in his audiences. If left unaddressed and unhealed, PITS will continue to harm. There is a guilt that is an appropriate response, and that guilt needs to be addressed. The way forward, he described, includes the naming of unsettling truths, deep lamentation, and confession.

In Luke 3:12-17, Peter is bringing his own people an unsettling truth so that they can experience appropriate guilt, lament, repent, and find the refreshment of forgiveness. “Repent, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing my come from the Lord.” v. 19 

Peter is also proclaiming that their violence simply was not powerful enough to destroy the life force within Jesus. Jesus’ death merely became the portal through which Jesus passed into a resurrected, vitally alive, embodied existence. “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. 
We are witnesses of this” v.15

Jesus, whom they crucified, is alive. And the lame man, just healed by Peter in Acts 3, who is leaping and shouting in the courts of the temple, is the walking, talking, breathing, jumping, running manifestation of the resurrected life of Jesus. This man is a living image of Jesus raised up to new life. The resurrection energy flowing through this man’s body, restoring him to health, to community, to joy, to life, emanated from Jesus’s life.

“The worst word isn’t the last word”. (Buechner) Peter centers the resurrected life of Jesus and invites his kin to re-center themselves around the source of this life: Jesus, the resurrected Christ.”

May we repent of the Doctrine of Discovery. 
May we repent of white supremacy, which is a betrayal of Jesus Christ. 
May we look into the eyes of the One who can raise us up to new life.
May we place the resurrected life of Jesus at the centre of our attention.
May we become a fresh expression of the resurrected life of the welcoming Christ. 

Deep peace and blessing,

Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, Church at Southpoint

*Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah. IVPress, 2019.

Eastertide Meditations
Navigating In Liminal Space
(1) And I Hope
(2) Opening to Love
(3) The Gift of Unsettling Truth

Worship Calendar

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. Zoom link. Meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 password: 753319

Listen to Sermons
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Catch up on Anne’s recent blogs under “News” on our website, southpoint.ca

Sun May 12   Mother’s Day
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Sun May 19 Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21

Sun May 26 
No service at the Sunnyside building
Brunches Together!

Sun Jun 2
Rev Rusty Edwards (CABF)
2 Cor 4:5-12

Sun Jun 9
2 Cor 4:13-5:1

Sun Jun 16
2 Cor 5:6-11, 14-17

Sun Jun 23
Baptisms, at A Rocha’s Brooksdale Environmental Centre No service at the Sunnyside building

Sun Jun 30 
Fifth Sunday Brunches Together No service at the Sunnyside building

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Here’s the bio of our Pastor, Rev. Anne Baxter Smith.

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Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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