- William Sloane Coffin
“We are more alike, my
friends, than we are unalike.”
- Maya Angelou
In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
- Galatians 3.28-29 (The Message)
I will never forget Louis Moore and the lesson he taught me one sultry summer’s evening long ago in the Deep South. The year was 1967, and Louis was one of a handful of Blacks bussed into Minor High School where I attended. They were all kids of significant courage who braved the slurs and abuse of far too many students who – how shall I say this? – lacked moral fiber. But Louis stood above them all. Of the 150 or so kids who went out for football in the spring, Louis was the only black. Most of the other 149 had advanced from Dixie Junior High School, the home of the rebels. Colors? Blue and Gray. Mascot? A Confederate flag. But Louis was not to be intimidated. He stood up under pressure I can’t even imagine, went back day after day always finding himself at the bottom of the depth chart and starting over, and finally made the team. He was the first, and at the time the only, black football player for the fighting Tigers.
The day etched in my memory occurred half way through summer training camp, 2 weeks of twice a day practice. There was a morning practice of 3 hours, several hours of sleep, a bite of food, and an evening practice that lasted until the cows came home. We were always exhausted; battered, sore, and bruised; never sure if we could make it through one more day.
After one particularly grueling evening practice, I sat on the bench facing my locker, stripped from the waist up, elbows on knees, utterly exhausted, trying to find the strength to get up and go to the showers. Suddenly the isle cleared out and looking up I saw Louis at the other end of the isle sitting on the bench facing his locker, stripped from the waist up, elbows on knees, utterly exhausted, trying to find the strength to get up and go to the showers. Our eyes met, and we shared a pained expression that said everything that needed to be said. But in that moment a light dawned in my spirit, and in that most common setting I realized that we were the same, Louis and I. We mirrored each other; like a reflection in a mirror.
That experience shed a little light for me on ethnic unity and equality, and the light has been shining ever since, growing stronger, and illuminating other groups equally despised, rejected, and pushed to the margins of society; groups with which we need to recognize unity. On Sunday we will celebrate equality and unity with friends from the Historic Second Baptist Church of Olathe, our own ministry partner Rios de Agua Viva, and friends from The Raindrop House in Lenexa. Join us at 10:30 AM for a rousing worship gathering, and stay for dinner… it’s on us.