Each week throughout Lent, Motor City Wesley has reserved a table in the student center at Wayne State University, and said “We’re sorry” to any and everyone passing by. We’ve been repenting of the ways that Christians and Christian churches have hurt people and continue to do so.
Everything from the Crusades, to segregation of denominations by race, to pastors pursuing political power rather than justice and mercy are laid bare in our short conversations with interested visitors.
A table-sized poster features a black and grey version of the #MotoWesley logo and the words “WE ARE SORRY” in big block letters. For those who stop to talk, a notebook and pens are available for registering specific anecdotes of how the church has wielded its brokenness in these people’s lives. As a token of our penance, Starbucks gift cards are available for anyone who shares a specific story of being hurt by followers of Jesus.
The blessings in this act come in surprising moments: the Atheist who offers her forgiveness, the look of bewildered appreciation in the eyes of students who never thought a Christian would do such a thing.
Challenging conversations also come up: the Christian who defends the Crusades as a necessary act, the student who says, “Well its good you’re starting to say sorry for the hurt you’ve caused, because you sure have caused a lot of it.”
It was a humbling practice, and one that fit well with the work we have to do in our own souls during Lent. And it seemed to be a practice that the world needs to see us conducting more often.
So, #MotoWesley remains committed to cooperating in the convicting grace of God, recognizing our own complicity in sin, and taking action to repent and move toward Jesus' beloved community. Thanks to all the Wayne State community that helped us in this work these last few weeks!
(Special thanks to Donald Miller and his description of a practice like this in Blue Like Jazz.)