Lipizzaner horses are known for their aerobatic skills and disciplined performances. Their coats are thick dazzling white, but they are not born that way. Lipizzaner horses are actually black at birth. As they grow, their coats gradually change.
Imagine if Lipizzaner horses treated each other differently because of the color of their coats. It would make no sense. They would be discriminating against their own kind. With all the racially charged issues in our society right now, what if people just practiced good old fashioned horse-sense?
Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel), in perhaps his clearest story dealing with racism, wrote about The Sneetches, beasts in which some had stars on their bellies and others did not. The star-bellied Sneetches looked down on those without stars. One day, a man came along with a machine that put stars on those without them. The original star-bellied Sneetches were now jealous that special status was gone, so the man provided another machine that took stars off.
The Sneetches, of course, had to pay "the man" each time they had a star put on or taken off. Obviously, there are always those who benefit from the discord. When he finally drove off, he laughed at the Sneetches who refused to change.
But Dr. Suess concludes with this hopeful note:
But (he) was quite wrong. I'm quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.
Sometimes the toughest of challenges are best understood in the simplest of ways. If only we could understand we are all God's creatures and to separate or look differently at one another is just discriminating against our own kind!
Right now our church is experiencing a surge of visitors and guests. Just in the last two Sundays we had over 50 first-time guests. Most people enter our big church wondering if they fit in, what the people are like, whether they will be accepted, etc. I want to encourage us to practice our horse-sense and go out of our way to welcome each other, especially those who look different from us. If you have ever been a minority in a setting, then you know how much more meaningful it is to have people who speak to you and make you feel welcome. In this series on honoring Dr. King's legacy, the most important thing we do could just be that simple: going out of our way to make everyone know they fit in.
As one last comment, I hear from members who get uncomfortable speaking to people who don't know if someone else is a member or not. Here's a sample conversation I overheard one Sunday that may be helpful.
A member went up to someone she didn't recognize.
Woman: Hello, are you a member at St. Luke's?
Other person: Yes, I am.
Woman: Well, my name is ____, how long have you been here?
What ensued was a conversation that made them laugh at being in the same church for decades but never having met. They discovered several things they had in common and agreed to meet for lunch. A friendship developed that started with an intention of being more welcoming.
We all benefit!