“The Power of Privilege”
“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
On Sunday, Alan Potter delivered an inspirational message titled, “The Power of Privilege,” based upon the story in the Gospel of Matthew where a rich young man approaches Jesus and asks, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Alan showed us how this story is about privilege and the importance of recognizing it and “pouring it out” in order to usher in God’s reign on earth. I don’t want to say too much about Alan’s message, in case you are about to watch it online, but I will tell you that I have heard sermons on this passage probably dozens of times and Alan’s message offered the best explanation of the text that I can ever remember. So please watch it if you missed church on Sunday!
We have been hearing and reading a lot in the news lately about privilege and, in particular, “White privilege.” A friend of mine who has done a lot of reading and educating about privilege uses the phrase “dominant culture privilege,” for there are people in every culture who benefit from certain privileges who never stop to acknowledge any of them. In fact, they are so used to their privileges and take them for granted to the point that they don’t even see that they exist. However, the people without those privileges see them every day of their lives. That’s why I believe that if people with privileges want to actually see their privileges and understand how they benefit from them, they ought to ask people without those privileges to point them out. The problem is (as I have just mentioned), we have a hard time seeing our privileges at all and so we don’t even know who to ask!
What I have observed as the most effective catalysts for recognizing privileges is that people without privilege speak up, shout out, chant, write, and create art about the privileges they see. (By art, I mean all art: poetry, music, painting, acting, writing, producing film, and so much more.) That’s the only way people with privilege will ever see it. I don’t have to tell you that this is happening today. In fact, I see and hear and feel it every single day in the news, on social media, and in local and national conversations, as artists and activists alike are pointing to the privileges they don’t have and others do.
Perhaps the most important things for those with privilege to do is to pay attention and ask God for an open heart and mind with humility in order that we might see what others see. Along these lines, Alan said these words at the close of his message: “I challenge you, as you go through your week, to ask God to show you what ways you hold privilege and in what ways can you give it away.” I hope we all will do just that.
Kahu Alan Akana
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of this week’s message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.