To show our belief in the sacred worth of black lives, Annandale UMC recently convened a committee to create artwork reflecting that philosophy. Below is a reflection on the meaning of that artwork from Lavinia Odejimi.
Action through Love
It is important for the church to affirm that Black Lives Matter because it was the Christian church that sanctioned and gave permission for the enslavement of Africans. The church claimed that Africans had no soul, that the descendants of Ham (as they referred to the African people), should be enslaved.
The Christian church supported white supremacy through its teachings. Enslaved people were even given a revised Bible—the sections on freedom and liberation were taken out. Enslaved people also had separate worship spaces, which continues to this day with Black churches and White churches.
The church, therefore, should be the place where change happens. All of the energy that was put into showing that Black lives didn’t matter needs to be redirected into showing that Black lives do matter. We have this mess because the church did not do its duty to respect the dignity of every person and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is time for the church to show where it stands—that all people are made in the image of God, and all are equally valuable to God.
Christian love and racial justice are inseparable. Devoted Christians cannot see these concepts as political. Politics divide. Jesus’ teachings are “action through love,” which is inclusive. We cherish whatever or whoever is valued as precious and sacred. We love, protect, care for, bless, affirm, and hold up that which we deem sacred.
Those of us who were born with an abundance of melanin in our skin are sacred. The members of Annandale United Methodist Church have erected this exquisite art display to show the world that we are Christians dedicated to Jesus’ inclusive standards of truth, justice, mercy, and love.