Run with perseverance the race for God’s Justice Aug 18, 2013
In the name of God who created us from love, God who came to us in love, and God who inspires and sustains us with love. Amen
Hold on where did my sweet Jesus go? He says he didn’t come to bring peace? But wait, he is the prince of peace. I want the Christmas baby back ----the one who comforts and soothes. I do not like this angry Jesus. .........
The author of Luke puts these angry words in Jesus’ mouth because as people choose to follow Jesus they are risking everything. They are not only being thrown out by their families, they risk being killed for choosing Jesus. As the early Christian Church was forming, families were divided---not necessarily by working for justice but for choosing to follow Jesus as the Messiah. Everyone in the household could be killed for disobeying The Father, the head of the household. Many women, children, and enslaved people risked being killed to choose to follow Jesus. Many were killed for making this choice.
This is why it is easy for the author of Luke to both call Jesus the Prince of Peace and to put the words into Jesus’ mouth that have him claim to be the Prince of Divided Households.
“I did not come to bring peace, I came to bring division...”
Jesus goes on to call us hypocrites. We understand the weather. We know how to predict what is coming but we do not heed what God is saying to us. D. Mark Davis explains it this way.
Hypocrisy is, I would argue, relying on God’s way in the world in some respects (anticipating weather, for example), but being blind to it in others – like in justice issues. I think Jesus harsh words are as pertinent today as they were in his lifetime and 50 years ago when the civil rights movement was fighting against huge obstacles of institutional racism. And today these words are still pertinent as racism, sexism, and homophobia, rage on.
Many of us in this room have risked family relationships to be our true selves,
or by fighting for rights for others,
or by gaining an education
these actions separated us from family,
The words that divided some families include:
Mom Dad, “I’m gay”
Mom Dad, “ I have a college degree”
Mom Dad, “I want to marry this person”
Mom Dad, “We are adopting this child”
Mom Dad, “I am going to help the cause, I may be arrested.”
Mom Dad, -----fill in the blank
Some of us came home and announced
who we are,
or what we believe,
or what we had learned
and our families turned us out.
We knew that if God created us then we had to be who we are.
We determined that if we believed what Jesus said then we had to support the cries for justice in our country.
Paul talks about all the martyrs and saints that have gone before us. He tells in sketchy detain the horrors they endured. Some of us have our own stories of what we gave up,
what we suffered because of our
love of God
and our love for God’s justice.
Paul cheers us on by inviting us to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us,”
There is much work ahead of us.
On good days, I want to think we have made great progress.
While there are no photos of dogs and fire hoses being turned on children,
there is death by a thousand cuts.
It is harder to keep track of, the backlash that is at a roiling boil but always just beneath the surface except when it boils over and takes a few lives.
This aggression ignites the fear in all people who fit the category attacked.
Acts of violence try to control “the other.”
By killing or assaulting a few who symbolize legions everyone in that category is put on notice--”This could be you.” We do not want you to step out of line. We do not want to hear your story. We want you to go away.”
Within this year, there have been several cases of attacks on our sisters and brothers.
In June we put up the gay pride flag.
I intended to take it down in July.
Then a series of assaults & murders occurred and I felt we needed to keep it up to stay in solidarity with those who were attacked.
The Trayvon Martin murder and the trial of Zimmerman which followed demonstrated how difficult it is to be a person of color in our country.
Recently, I recieved an e-mail from family with whom I can scarcely talk about anything anymore. Talk about families divided.
The e-mail showed a rapper who was supporting Trayvon’s loved ones. It identifies the rapper as Trayvon and went on to describe this six foot, two twenty pound guy with tattoos and piercing as Trayvon stating “this is what our liberal media won’t tell you.” This calculated e-mail seemed ligit until I went to FactCheck.org and found out the corroner said Trayvon was 5’11” and 150lb and the correction showed the last photo of him at his mothers birthday party looking like a young high school kid. The internet is wonderful but it is also the yellow journalism of our era. It certainly helps feed the beliefs of people who are afraid that by having justice for all and by appreciating our differences that some will loose their power.
There is still so much work to be done even as this coming week, we celebrate , 50 years since the March on Washington for Civil Rights and Matin Luther King’s speech on the mall,
“I have a dream...”
I was a fifteen year old white Californian watching our family television and I had never heard such words before. I had never heard Black preaching. Beyond that I had never heard a preacher use Biblical text with such power and elegance. “Let Justice roll down like water.”
I wanted to be there. I know some of you were.
I wanted what that man was proposing. I wanted a country filled with justice for all.
I lived in an all white town, I heard all the neighborhood and family talk that was supposed to “educate me” to hate and fear certain people.
I heard what the adults said and I couldn’t accept their conclusions. Even before MLK’s speech--I knew that something was wrong.
We too, can have a dream. Today, what is God calling us to do here in Sag Harbor? In our neighborhood, in our state, in our country, or in the world?
Twice a year through Maureen’s Haven, we feed and provide safe housing for 60-80 homeless people. Through our Haitian Art Sale in conjunction with Vassar College, we have helped to build a health clinic in the village of Charmeteeir where there was almost no medical service.
Let’s not rest on our accomplishments. There are many places crying for our voice to be in tune with God’s justice.
In the Church’s backyard, up Rt. 114 an expansion of the current gas station is being proposed. It will have two canopy’s of florescent lights covering the gas pumps, 24/7. The land abuts the African Methodist Episcopal Church and cemetery. Currently the gas Station is a Mayberry size operation in a residential neighborhood. The proposal is to build a highway size service station in a small village setting. Besides the church the site is surrounded by homes and the Eastville museum. This is a justice issue for our neighborhood’s quality of life. Tuesday night the planning board will hear a revised proposal for this huge expansion. We at Christ Church have a conflict as Dr. Roger Allen is going to speak on The Middle East at 7:00pm. Looking at the agenda for the Zoning Board of Appeals, the gas station expansion is at the end of the meeting which begins at 6:30. It might be possible to gather outside the town hall at 6:15 as the people are arriving and have placards that say CC opposes expansion in neighborhood and or to go after the lecture, to the meeting and state our opposition.
Besides the impact to the homes and church next door, the new owners have been silent about remediation of any gas seapage into the earth form the old gas tanks. Across the country old gas stations are fenced off as toxic sites because the remediation is very costly and difficult. Long Island has only one aquifer for the whole island if it is compromised, the health of everyone who lives here is in jeopardy. Can we write letters--create a Christ Church petition against this. Think on this and let’s talk at coffee hour.
Our struggle for inclusion, valuing of differences and understanding,
took a huge hit this week, locally.
At the Shinnecock Reservation, they had just completed fencing their education center where they do reenactments of Traditional Indian life in order to educate the general population about their customs and culture. This week someone or some several people spray painted the new fence, with symbols and racial slurs and damaged sections of the fence.
Our sisters and brothers on the reservation are asking for donations to replace and repair the fence and for workers to help rebuild the fence. Could we send a few bodies to work and or could we make lunch to take to the workers? Could we write letters of support? Do you have other ideas of how we can help our neighbors and stand for God’s justice? This is our work as the Church.
If we see Jesus, the risen Christ, as the true vine,
if we see ourselves the community, as the branches, then we can serve Christ with faithfulness, and commitment. We can support inclusion and appreciation of our wondrous diversity given by God in creation. We can run the race of life with dignity and perseverance.
This morning, Jesus is not asking us to sit in the pews and be nice. Jesus is telling us our work is difficult and risky and we should take it on even if it means a rift in our family. The saints of our Church are saints because they stood, they spoke, they sat, they worked, they risked everything for God’s justice that it might roll down like water on all. Amen