Ubuntu. As you and I abide in, reflect on, wrestle with, and respond to the sin and state of racism within which we live, I receive great hope from the word “Ubuntu” (pronounced uu-Boon-too, derived from one of the Bantu dialects of Africa). The core of this African philosophy [Ubuntu] offers that all human beings, equally created in the image of God (imago Dei), must understand themselves in relation with the world in order to be whole persons. It means for each person that “I am because you are.” This I find to be both true and mysterious and definitely a “God thing.”
Ubuntu. Daily, I pray that all human beings will work on realizing that each of us actually is “un-whole” if the common bond with all human beings is ignored or minimized or broken. Regardless of what labels or histories we have received from family, society, choice, or force (like American slavery), how and with whom they identify, or what circles they have chosen to be social, study, travel, and play, we are because others are. The recent Charleston massacre and subsequent discussions about the Confederate flag have ignited something fierce throughout our region and nation; both point to reminders of the Ubuntu philosophy. We are because others are: when one dies or hurts, all die and hurt.
Ubuntu calls all Christians and non-Christians to do the hard, uncomfortable, and scary self-examination work of Ash Wednesday and Lent, every day of our lives. The God within each of us dares us to always be reconciling ourselves with God and one another and to “see the face of God in each other,” all so that we might be whole persons.
Life at St. Peter’s will always include collective and individual opportunities for us to do our “race work,” in the name of our parish vision to become bold followers of Jesus and a beacon of hope in Center City Charlotte. I look forward to praying and walking through this hard and holy journey with you by God’s grace and in the spirit of Ubuntu.
God’s blessings and peace to your journey,
–The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector