THE REPENTANCE PROJECT / AN AMERICAN LENT
What if... / The Redemption
of Cultural Identity
of Cultural Identity
WEEK III / DAY VII
Sunday, March 4, 2018
Scripture / Read Revelation 7
In the midst of scenes of judgment, John sees a preview of glory — and family and nation are at the heart of it. Not only are the twelve tribes of Israel sealed with the sign of God’s redemption, but he sees people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” praising God. They have “come out of the great ordeal.” And while they all wear robes of white, they represent the full diversity of humanity, rescued by the Lamb.
Our History and Its Legacy
The story of white America is a story of assimilation — immigrants from many parts of Europe and beyond being stirred into a “melting pot” that subsumed their particular cultural heritages into a new American identity. Many White Americans have only a dim sense of their own ancestry — their forebears arrived in a “New World” that promised them a new identity cut off from the past.
Meanwhile, the violence that accompanied that arrival — the displacement and decimation of the existing peoples of the Americas and the enslavement of Africans — severed links to heritage and history, as well. Both those who could identify as “white” and those who were excluded from that kind of privilege have been cut off from their history.
This is very far from Revelation’s vision of redemption. Significantly, John sees people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Each of these categories matters. It is possible to be part of the same nation and speak a different language (for example, Spanish- and English-speaking citizens of the United States). It is possible to speak the same language but be part of different nations (citizens of Spain and Venezuela). At the final celebration of victory, none of these fine distinctions between nation, tribe, people, and language has been lost. They are all present — in a great multitude no one can count.
Is it possible that after the “great ordeal” of violence, which threatens to erase identity and memory, God will rescue all the forgotten stories of our American lives?
Reflection and Response / Prayer of Repentance
Who are the most distant members of your family whose names you know? What was their story? Did they undergo a “great ordeal”? What is your nation, tribe, people, and language? In a journal, do your best to identify these elements of your heritage.
Then consider offering each of the following three kinds of prayers to God:
- Thanksgiving for the ways your particular family, nation, tribe, people, and language have represented the image of God;
- Lamentation for the suffering and loss that is part of their story;
- Prayer for God to rescue and remember the parts of that story that have been lost, forgotten, or erased.
Give God thanks for the day when everyone sealed in Christ, in all the fullness of their cultural inheritance, will be gathered around the throne of the Lamb.
Written by Andy Crouch