It’s been a painful weekend for me.  It started Thursday afternoon in the lower right part of the jaw, specifically tooth number 31 – a molar is the prime suspect.  By Friday, I was miserable.  To begin with, I don’t do pain very well and when it is constant and unrelenting I am not a happy camper. Simply out of necessity, I figured out that hot was super painful and cool was more tolerable.  Foods that need chewing not good. Ice cream very good. All kinds of ice cream worked magic.  I didn’t even know there were so many choices of ice cream flavors out there.  I talked myself into believing I was managing the pain when in reality I was barely tolerating it.  The pain and discomfort never went away; it was always a matter of when it would grab a hold of me.

Monday morning arrived with the anticipated call from Dr. Holden’s office. Thankfully, she was able to fit me in right way and from her office off to the Endodontics’s office for the expected diagnosis and a root canal.  After x-rays, CT scan, some minor and major tapping to my teeth, it was determined that a root canal would not solve the problem.  The tooth needed extraction. The earliest appointment is Wednesday afternoon. I’m sitting with a lot of pain and waiting. The solution to my problem is extraction.
Forget the tooth story. It’s true but it’s just a tooth story and it’s not even that good of a tooth story. The purpose however was to help us to wonder about extraction – the action of taking out something using effort (or force.)

As a nation, we’re sitting with a lot of pain. The pain is showing up in the divisiveness out in the streets, in the tension between law enforcement and protestor, in the words being tossed around on social media, in the act of looting.  We’re witnessing the pain on a daily basis.  We’re sitting with a lot of pain. There is economic disparity and injustice. There is racial inequality and repression.  There is a lot of hurt in our communities and in our country.

I’ll suggest that a far greater majority of us do not like what’s going on and we don’t want things to continue like they are. But we just can’t extract the pain or the problem of racism from reality. Racism is deep and historically rooted in our national story.  Actions that force solutions are not redemptive. Forced deals do not last. Worse, it is not dealing with racial problem. That’s unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy. There is a more excellent way.

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.  Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Reflection Questions:
How have you witnessed racial equality?
Whose interests are you looking out for?
What will help heal the pain and problem of racism?

Prayer: Holy God, breathe upon us your Spirit of love of justice and mercy and grace.  Fill us with your love that is transforming and life giving.  Clothe us in true humility and unselfishness. Amen.


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