Mar 222015
 

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Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

The Collect

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Sermon

Let’s pray. Sisters and brothers, holy partners in our heavenly calling, consider this: Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him. … He is faithful over God’s house as a son. Let us, you and I, hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope, as we - gathered here — are indeed God’s house.  (From Hebrews 3:1-6Amen.

It’s time to say adios to you. Today marks the end of my time serving the risen Christ alongside you here at St. Paul’s.

And, I have a small confession to make today. It’s my habit to crib the opening prayers for my homilies from the Bible, from something in the day’s reading.  When the reading is from St. Paul, that’s easy: he starts most all his letters with “Grace to you, and peace, from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a straightforward greeting in the Lord; it offers grace without – immediately — demanding something in return.

But “Hebrews?” It’s a whole lot less colloquial. People who know these things say it’s written in a more finely-wrought dialect of classical Greek than the rest of the New Testament. It quotes extensively from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Finding a suitable opening prayer takes some digging. The prayer asks more of us – “hold firm to confidence and pride.”

The writer wants to explain something to us, to show us the hidden connections, to prove to us the holiness of Jesus. See? he writes. This Jesus is definitely a high priest, but he’s not like the high priests of Herod’s temple on Mount Zion. His high-priestly status – connected to Melchizedek who shows up feeding Abram in Genesis —  predate and transcend the Levitical order of temple priests. Jesus isn’t in it for the personal glory, but out of obedience to God in heaven. Here it’s the suffering of Jesus that makes him obedient, and his obedience that completes him and makes him the perfect source of salvation. It’s all very idealistic. It’s all about perfection.

The writer of Hebrews appeals to the idealism we’ve inherited from classical Greek culture. He talks to our yearning for perfect transcendent patterns tying everything together. He wouldn’t have said, “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds.” He would have said, “the plan of God that perfects all understanding will fill your hearts and minds.”

Through Jeremiah the Lord said, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

The writer of Hebrews would say that the route to our hearts is through our reason – that to discern the ideal perfection tying things together is to “get it” —  is to have the law written on our hearts.

Now, that’s a legitimate path to walk on our journeys to God. But it’s different from St. Paul’s path. Paul’s all about the paradoxical struggles of the life of faith. He says, “it’s foolishness to Greeks and scandal to Jews, but we proclaim Christ crucified.

In all three readings today, we see that tension between Hebrew and Greek that difference between experience and idealism, between flesh and spirit. In all three readings we see the yearning to unite those two. “The day is surely coming,” says Jeremiah, when we won’t have to learn or teach the law because we’ll already know it.  In Hebrews, Jesus’s high-priesthood is more perfect, more ideal, than the priesthood of the Jerusalem temple. In the Gospel reading, the Greek visitors come seeking the perfection of Jesus in the temple.

So, who am I and who are you? An idealist, seeking the highest and most perfect path? Or the one who finds God’s grace in broken places and trouble?

We can walk either the path of idealism or the path of paradox in our journeys to God. Some days we follow Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Other days, we proclaim Christ crucified.

Some days we pray prayers for order like today’s collect “Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise”

Other days we proclaim Christ crucified. Walter Wangerin, a mid-20th-century columnist and pastor, told this story. When his son was eight, the boy had the habit of shoplifting comic books. His father reasoned and cajoled him, explaining the virtues of honesty, of kindness to the shopkeeper, and of staying out of trouble with the law, but the boy kept on stealing. Finally the father decided he had no choice to spank the boy. He did so, very ritually, and then fled to the next room in tears. The boy stopped stealing after that.

Years later, when the boy was packing to leave for college, the father overheard him and his mother talking about his collection of comic books. She said, “you didn’t stop stealing them until Dad spanked you,” and he replied “I didn’t stop because of the spanking. I  stopped because I saw Dad crying.” Wow. The holy perfection in that family’s path is completely from God!

In our reading from John, the Greek visitors want to see Jesus. They want to lay their eyes on this great teacher. They respectfully approach him through Philip, one of their own. Perhaps they have the idea that personally witnessing him will fill them with clarity, and cause the ideal law to be written on their hearts.

And Jesus’s answer to them is yes, and.  His yes – a yes of transformation – carries the Greeks beyond idealism and the Hebrews beyond righteousness. It carries Paul beyond proclaiming Christ crucified to Christ resurrected. He transforms weakness into strength, paradox into certainty.  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” he says of his coming violent death. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” In his anguish and death he conquers death. He gathers together into one the paths of idealism and paradox, and overcomes the power of violence and darkness. You and I receive the grace to follow our varying paths – foolishness, stumbling blocks, Paul, Hebrews — with the assurance that Jesus gathers us all to himself in his death and resurrection.

I’ve been talking about different paths this morning, and how those paths lead to God. As you surely know, this is my last Sunday with you all here at St. Paul’s. The time has come for me to follow a different path from you. I do so with the assurance that your future paths and mine are gathered together at the cross and the empty tomb.

The church places a peculiar demand on her ordained servants. When we leave the service of a particular congregation, we are expected to say goodbye and separate ourselves. This isn’t easy for me; I love you people and I will miss you.

In the past few Augusts I’ve gone to a training session offered by the Willow Creek association of megachurches. Various megachurch pastors came and spoke about their plans to retire — slowly. “I’ll preach once a month and do baptisms.” One of them actually said, “It will be hard to step away from all the work I’ve done to build this church;” Then he caught himself and said, “Jesus built this church.” A lot of these megachurches started in the 1960s and 1970s, and many of their pastors are facing times of transition. One wonders what will happen to those congregations should the pastors hang on. Will they be confused about who they follow? I hope not.

Our church traditions, both Episcopal and Lutheran, have this demand that we preachers say goodbye and separate. It’s a good policy. It matters to the health of the church. It has played a part in creating a church that lasts for centuries, not just decades.

It’s necessary. Why? Because the church follows Jesus. The church does not serve people like me. When we preachers say goodbye gracefully, we do just a little bit to remind ourselves and the church that we follow Jesus. We also make it a little easier for our fellow preachers to do their work faithfully.

So I must say goodbye. Thank you for the privilege of serving Christ crucified and risen alongside you all here on High Street. I am grateful for your company on the path towards God from Advent 2010 until now.  I love you and I will remember you until our paths are gathered together again in Christ.

Grace to you, and peace, from the one who was, and who is, and who is to come.  Amen.

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 Foolishness / Scandal / Paths to God. Sermon for March 22, 2015  Posted by on Sun, 22-Mar-15 News, Sermons Comments Off on Foolishness / Scandal / Paths to God. Sermon for March 22, 2015
Mar 202015
 

St. Paul’s Church uses the free (open source: free as in free speech; free as in free kittens) digital signage system called RiseVision.  RiseVision’s in the so-called “cloud” and works with various Google services.

This system delivers digital sign content.

It uses four sources of up-to-date information to present an engaging display.

  • St. Paul’s online Google Calendar, shown here.
  • A slideshow stored in Google Apps, to which Deb Hay has access.
  • A daily bible verse, provided by the ELCA in an RSS feed.
  • Weather, provided by RiseVision.

If your Google account (@gmail.com or @stpauls-nbpt.org) has access to RiseVision, you can go to their web page and log in. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a menu offering

  • Presentations — screen contents: the design of the stuff on the sign screen.
  • Gadgets — the modules used to present particular information, like the calendar.
  • Storage — we don’t use this.
  • Displays — There’s one display for the sign in the Great Hall. If you add another sign, you add another Display.
  • Schedules — Governs what Presentation appears when on a Display. We have one Presentation for general use and a second one for when 12-step groups use the Great Hall. The Schedule shows which Presentation should be used when.
  • Settings — Stuff like the street address and time zone.
  • Users — A list of users who can access the RiseVision service to control digital signs.

There’s online documentation for all this. The RiseVision team is making great strides improving in 2015.

How does the actual digital sign work?  It’s a TV set, connected to a media player gadget. The medial player uses WiFi to connect to the building’s network, so it can access the RiseVision server. You can read about the Tronsmart Vega S89 media player  used at St. Paul’s Church here. It was bought based on price. There’s a remote control for it, as of late March 2015 stored in a box in the tv closet in the library.

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 Electric Signs at St. Paul’s  Posted by on Fri, 20-Mar-15 Contributing Comments Off on Electric Signs at St. Paul’s
Mar 162015
 

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 Sermon for Sunday March 15 2015 The Fourth Sunday in Lent  Posted by on Mon, 16-Mar-15 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Sunday March 15 2015 The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Mar 152015
 

Sky Zone

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 Sky Zone Trip  Posted by on Sun, 15-Mar-15 News Comments Off on Sky Zone Trip
Mar 082015
 

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Readings

Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 19
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
John 2:13-22

We’ve just read Exodus 20. This passage contains the well-known Ten Commandments. They don’t come up often in the lectionary. So, let’s wonder together about these commandments today. They wield plenty of influence in our culture. We see interpretations of them everywhere, including the one on our altarpiece on the wall of the chancel here. They sometimes turn up in courthouses and other buildings of the civil authorities, notoriously in the Supreme Court of the state of Alabama. We’re tempted to use these words to judge one another. We sometimes use them sometimes to convince ourselves we’re better than other people.

Jesus calls us, his followers, away from that self-righteousness. He calls us to live with repentance, always to turn our hearts towards God’s realm of justice, mercy and peace. We’re called to live as if God’s realm is here now, in the midst of the realm of this world.

Just as we’re called to repent because God’s realm is drawn near, we’re called to wonder what it means to actually do that. Just as we’re called to take up our cross and follow Jesus, we wonder what that means short of placing a heavy four-by-four across our shoulders and lugging it up a hill to a gallows. Is that what these Commandments are about, teaching us what it means to take up our crosses and follow?

We wonder. Are the commandments squares on a ticket we must get punched to gain admission to God’s realm?  That is, no doubt, a deeply ingrained interpretation. And it’s true. Look at the display on the altarpiece. (Notice the words are second-person singular – addressed to each of us personally, not collectively.)

No other gods before the LORD.  No idols. No misuse of God’s name. Remember the Sabbath. Honor your parents. No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies against your neighbor. No coveting anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Surely, when (not if) we fall short of following these rules, we turn away from God’s realm. These rules are indeed important to living by doing justice, and loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. This list-of-rules interpretation is good. But at the same time it’s hard enough to follow that it tempts us to self-righteousness in those rare days when we do succeed at following all the rules.

The story doesn’t end there. These words of the Lord offer more than the list of rules.  In fact, the Lord spoke more words than the posted list of rules – on our altarpiece and in the Alabama courthouse – recognizes.

Can you spot the differences between the words on the wall and the words we just heard? …

Well, the very first words are missing from our wall. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  Before any insistence that you or I do anything, we’re reminded of God’s redeeming action on our behalf.

What else? How about honoring the Sabbath? Is it a question of personal piety? Yes, and more. What does the Bible text have that the short list of rules leaves out? “You shall not do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger within your gates.”  As good and life-giving as our devotion to God can be, these words point beyond personal piety to justice. All creation gets to rest. Rest for our guests, animals, employees, and children is just as important as rest for ourselves. If I deny rest to others, it’s the same as claiming divine power for myself.

You get the point. There’s a lot more to these divine words spoken to Moses than a behavioral punchlist. Let’s sidestep the temptation to simplify them and instead invite these words to point us to the mystery of life in God’s realm.

The first and last commandments tell us how to think! They offer us ways of shaping our hearts and minds. The first commandment says “no gods before me.” The last says “no coveting your neighbor’s spouse, house, servants, livestock, or any thing that belongs to your neighbor.”

The rest of the commandments offer us disciplines – ways of behaving to shape our hearts – that way.

  • When we refrain from using idols and from misusing God’s name, that’s a way of remembering to place God first.
  • Allowing ourselves and those in our power to rest reminds us that it’s God, not us, that gives us life. In the same way, honoring our parents reminds us that we don’t live for ourselves alone.
  • And significantly, we shape our hearts by refraining from acts of violence – killing, adultery, stealing, lying – against one another.

Let’s reflect for a moment on how radical these commandments are. Let’s look at the strong challenge this holy shaping of our hearts offers to our human nature, and to what we hope for.

What does it mean to covet our neighbors’ stuff? There once was a hungry customer and an impatient waiter in a busy restaurant. The customer looked at a nearby person’s meal and said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” The waiter grabbed that plate, put it in front of him, and said, “are you happy now?”

“I’ll have what he’s having.” That’s coveting. It’s contagious. It’s strange when somebody rejects that way of life. There’s a man who sometimes comes to eat here at Among Friends. He’s homeless; he sleeps in a tent when it’s cold. A couple of years ago somebody persuaded him to sign up for the lottery to get an apartment at the new YWCA apartment house, and his name was drawn. But he looked at the apartment, and said “No thanks, I don’t want to live here.”  It’s a nice apartment, in a nice neighborhood. But he wasn’t having what his neighbors were having. He’s an example of somebody who lives the tenth commandment. I confess that’s baffling to me.

A pastor named Paul Nuechterlein pointed out that to “covet” is to catch desire from our neighbors. We all do it. We want stuff not because that stuff is, in itself, life-giving, but because our neighbors already have that same stuff. Throughout history we’ve seen that eyeing our neighbors and wanting their stuff leads to all kinds of misbehavior: smearing their reputations, stealing, seducing, and even murdering them, to get it. The thing we want is even sweeter when we grab it from somebody else. Our impatient waiter understands human nature pretty well.

Large parts of our economic culture are built around this contagious desire. How can we possibly say “no” to wanting what other people have? Doesn’t that disrupt commercial culture? What would life be like if coveting wasn’t part of human nature? Police officers wouldn’t have much to do. The whole advertising business would be pointless.

If we all suddenly started living the tenth commandment, it would be as St. Paul said: a stumbling block and foolishness to the world. We’d stop catching our desires from each other. We’d stop transmitting desire to our neighbors. That would make room in all our hearts for catching our desires from God.

This contagious disease of coveting will be cured. In that great and glorious day we can live into God’s promise made through the prophet Jeremiah. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” We won’t need to have our ten-commandment tickets punched any more.

In the meantime, let us do our best to remember that the Lord our God continually leads us out from the house of slavery. Let us not use the Lord’s commandments to judge and enslave one another, but instead let us invite Jesus his son into our hearts to sweep away the clutter, tear down the old temple, build the new one, and make room for the Spirit of peace and love blow freely between us. Amen.

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 Catch our yearnings from God, not each other: Sermon for March 8  Posted by on Sun, 8-Mar-15 News, Sermons Comments Off on Catch our yearnings from God, not each other: Sermon for March 8
Mar 022015
 

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Mark 8:31-38

Jesus began to teach his disciples that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

___________________________

Good Morning

Let us give praise and glory to the one holy and living God who ‘gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist’ (ROM 4:13-25)  Amen

 One afternoon recently I went to see the film Selma with a couple of friends. Another friend had declined the offer to join us saying “is that the movie about black people getting beat up and spit on? – no– I don’t want to see that  – I don’t think I could take it.” I could hardly blame her – I thought being moved as I have told you in the past to turning off the radio or ignoring the front page of the paper when a story is just too hard to take in.

In any case – I went along this time and

I found the movie was amazing and I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to do so.

But it is painful to watch and as much as I have read and studied about the Civil Rights movement in this country there were still some stunning depictions of the level of racial hatred that MLK and the many others whose names are less well known suffered as they sought to advance the causes of voting rights and equality for all Americans. It was disturbing to be reminded of how recent that struggle was in our history (perhaps that always the way we feel when a historical event occurred with our lifetime).

I think it is by now these days an old saw that white northerners still view our history of segregation and the institutionalized racism of Jim Crow as purely southern issues.

Still it seems easy to tell ourselves that we would have never been part of a mob spitting on or hurling racial epithets at black neighbors who dared to seek service at a lunch counter or to register to vote.

Easy to distance ourselves by insisting that our families had no part in denying jobs or housing or services to blacks. Tempting to think of that time and its challenges as long ago and far away.

But such temptations are only that simple if we keep a blind eye to our own struggles with racial equality right here close to home,

where we live and worship – here in the greater Boston area here in our Episcopal Church.

The movie left a stone in my shoe – one that reminds me that it is a privilege to not know – to be unaware – even to choose to be oblivious about the suffering of others – as I do with that radio dial

It is one of the advantages of being white in this country still- a privilege to be so removed from something this important.

The movie left me wondering what more I didn’t know about the Civil Rights struggle especially about the involvement or participation of members of my church. I knew from my studies at EDS about Jonathan Daniels – a seminarian from NH who 50 years ago this very week decided to answer Dr. King’s call for clergy and people of all backgrounds to join in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. I also knew that he was killed while trying to shield a black teenager from the shots fired by a part time sheriff in Hayneville, Alabama in August of that year.

But there was still much I didn’t know. Like for instance that he and his fellow seminarians faced despicable treatment by congregants in the local Episcopal church in Selma when they brought African Americans with them to worship services or that after a protest he participated in the week before his murder he and all the other protesters were transported to the local jail in the town’s garbage trucks.

Our church’s online archives describe the 1960s and 70s as a period of extended conflict over civil rights and segregation that was not limited simply to differences in practice between northern and southern congregations, but extended as well to the deepening of disagreements within the national hierarchy (patriarchy) of the church. The archives describe the situation this way

“The Episcopal Church treated African Americans as a problem: culturally and socially separated and inferior, but by baptism, full and equal members of the community. The Church tried to mend this breach by ministering to black Americans separately, consecrating bishops for “colored work”, funding black colleges, establishing black congregations, and operating a special office for “Negro work.” In short, the Episcopal Church fully embraced the American “separate but equal” construct of race relations. Overcoming this legacy would require the work of both whites and blacks.”

If you visit ‘episcopalarchives.org’ online you will find a chapter called ‘The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice’. It tells of a number of brave Episcopal clergy and lay groups who participated in freedom rides, marches with Dr King, those where jailed and beaten, and fought with their counterparts in southern churches to open their doors and ministries to all. It also offers some startlingly frank information about the church’s struggle to transform itself from an agent of complicity with the machinery of prejudice to one willing to face its own unexamined bigotry toward African Americans that persisted particularly in the north for decades beyond the supreme court’s decision to end school segregation in 1954.

Indeed, our church’s procedural rules for placing clergy in congregations were based on race late into the 1960’s— and it was not until 1970 that our own diocese had an African American bishop with responsibilities for overseeing white congregants.

What was that about? Did the conventional wisdom hold that white congregations would not accept the leadership of African American bishops and clergy?

Perhaps that was it – especially when you consider the pitched battles at the time over Boston’s segregated public schools that pitted poor black and poor white students from Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown and East & South Boston against one another in what some now consider the flawed experiment of integrating schools by busing. The heated rhetoric of the day revealed not only an entrenched resistance among the all white school board to desegregating the city’s public schools, but an outright refusal to admit that segregation even existed. Now – despite my advanced age – this isn’t ancient history – I was a freshman in college when the nightly news showed Boston school busses being pelted with rocks and hounded by crowds of whites mostly adults screaming and cursing at black children as young as 8 or 9 trying to make it safely into their classrooms.

—-

When I read in the Globe the other day that Boston’s painful history of busing and desegregation is to be taught in the public school curriculum I thought – how brave that is – brave because it is all too rare that we find the courage to confront painful things honestly – or have the hard conversations that so need to be had.

It also made me think of Peter’s exchange with Jesus in our reading from Mark this morning.

When Jesus tells his disciples that he will face great suffering at the hands of the elders, the chief priests of his own community – and be killed – Peter simply refuses to believe it.

Jesus’ reaction to this is pretty powerful – calling Peter ‘Satan’ and admonishing him for “thinking not as God does but as humans do.” This is the very same Peter mind you who in the scene immediately preceding this passage has recognized Jesus as the Messiah.

Mark’s gospel is described by scholars as having one theme only – exemplifying Christ crucified. Its intent they say is to depict the rule of God as a new social order in which care for the vulnerable and mutual service replace domination and the use of power to persecute others.

Does Peter protest Jesus’ prediction of the passion because this just isn’t the image of Messiah that he has firmly in his head? Had he so convinced himself of Jesus’ divinity that he assumed that meant the power to escape the torments or agonies of being human? This may make sense of Peter has viewed Jesus’ recent miracles (like feeding the 5000) as demonstrations of power rather than as acts of love.

Or is it possible that he finds it hard to believe that his own community will not only reject Jesus, but torture and kill him? Is it just too unbearable to imagine that his own people are capable of the treatment Jesus predicts? Is Peter having one of those moments that we all have when we can’t accept something about ourselves?

Something about our capacity for selfishness or for cruelty?

Was Peter’s immediate response of denial and disbelief at what Jesus was saying a way of protecting himself from some such truth?

I think that some of the mainstream responses to the most recent deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers stand out as examples of that kind of immediate response – a sort of self protective reflex – one in which we seek explanations that will make us feel better –that will explain in some way what we cannot accept as true about how some of our fellow Americans are treated, still today– these many decades after thousands and thousands marched and died for the hope to be treated equally before the law.

Two brief examples are the reactions to the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island by an officer of the NYPD and the shooting death of 12 year old Tamir Rice in a playground by a Cleveland police officer in November. In both instances, within days of the homicides major news outlets released reports that questioned the character of either the victims or family members.

In New York the focus turned from the culpability of the police officer for the death of an unarmed man alleged to have been selling loose cigarettes— to suggestions that his weight, history of asthma and diabetes contributed more to his death than the arm around his neck. Media outlets in Cleveland reported that the dead boy’s father had been charged with domestic violence in the past, as though that had anything to do with a 7th grader’s interest in a toy gun.

In both instances it seemed that some of us just couldn’t face the possibility that each of these deaths –and many others like them—were not only completely avoidable, but were bold reflections of the dismal state of the racial divide in this county.

These reports seemed determined to insist that there had to be another explanation – something other than the workings of a two-tiered justice system – one for whites and another for blacks and people of color. Something other than a climate in which under-trained and under-resourced police officers so fear some in the communities they serve that excessive force becomes accepted and then routine.

Were we reacting as Peter had? Refusing to believe or accept any responsibility for an unjust system?

In the end I guess that I came away from seeing Selma thinking that it just shouldn’t have been that hard; it shouldn’t have been that unfair or brutal that so many lives were lost without consequence. I was also painfully aware afterwards of how few conversations I have ever had about that time within my own family or among friends. In fact with the exception of my time in seminary – I can think of only a few real, honest conversations I have had with others about racial inequality or how it continues to haunt us even in 2015.

Where can we have those kind of conversations safely – when will we be able to face down the persistence of privilege that is still accorded in this country – in this state– in this town– whether we like it or not whether we asked for it or not —by skin color. That privilege of remaining unaware, or untouched by the injustices all around us?

Isn’t it incumbent upon us to know more about our past –about our own church’s work to transform itself into an ally, honestly willing to confront the still unexplored terrain of race relations in this country? Isn’t it the work of a Christian community to explore its own responsibilities for healing?

Jesus’ harsh rejection of Peter’s wishful thinking – his denial of the truth reminds us of the challenge that remains before us.

For those of us who despair that precious little has changed in these many years since Selma Maya Angelou reminds us:

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage,

need not be lived again.”

So here are at 2nd Lent —the cold season of reflection – the time we save for contemplating all that Christ asks of us – including hard truths about ourselves.

My prayer for this Lent is that my hardened heart may be softened along with the frozen ground – that instead of being immobilized by white guilt, the buds of reconciliation will awaken in me and I will find the courage to seek out those hard conversations and make room for the new social order – that new rule of God that Mark proclaims to us tis morning.

Amen

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 Sermon for Sunday March 1, 2015 The Second Sunday in Lent  Posted by on Mon, 2-Mar-15 News, Sermons Comments Off on Sermon for Sunday March 1, 2015 The Second Sunday in Lent