This article originally appeared on February 23, 2021 at Baptist News Global.
Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s as an independent Baptist in an all-white church, the first 20 Februarys of my life came and went without any awareness of either Lent or Black History Month. Liturgy was considered something the evil Catholics did. And each week, we kept the Black kids in their own separate service on the other side of the parking lot.
When I joined an Anglican church in my mid 30s, I had recently deconstructed much of my conservative evangelical faith. And like many progressive Christians, I felt anchored by the practices of liturgy and the seasons of the church calendar. While it seemed a little weird for this former Baptist hearing Christians talk about whether they were giving up chocolate cake or alcohol for Lent, the idea of entering into a season of identifying with the sufferings and emptiness of Jesus for 40 days, as Christians have done for many centuries, had an intriguing richness to it.
My theological journey out of conservative evangelicalism was ultimately a journey into healthy relationships. Through my growing self-awareness, I began to realize how I was carrying my wounds in my body during worship. As the healing from this journey continued, my self-awareness began to expand to include the wounds of my neighbor. And in this growing neighbor awareness, I began to see the suffering of the Black community.