Rev. Amy Morgan
November 27, 2016
Isaiah 40:9-11, Luke 1:67-79
It was a tense Thanksgiving. I’m sure we all tried to avoid it. Talk about football, the kids, the weather – ANYTHING. But the subject always comes up. Maybe it was inadvertent, a reference to something you didn’t even know you were making. But before you knew it, there was shouting, people were throwing napkins, relatives were storming out of the room. I don’t know when we’ll ever be able to talk peaceably about *turkey again.
It’s sad, isn’t it? That we can’t just all agree about turkey? Some people want to make it like it was back in the day. It was better then, they say. More honest and true. Others demand we change with the times, use the turkey-making technology available to us, incorporate a more diverse selection of turkey techniques. You can grill it, deep fry it, put it in a bag. You can even make vegetarian turkey. Which is the most horrific thing ever to those turkey traditionalists.
We can’t agree. There is too much at stake. We are talking about THANKSGIVING, people. This day only comes around once a year. You get ONE SHOT to gather with family members you spend most of the year avoiding, ONE SHOT to try to enjoy each other’s company, ONE SHOT to try to shed the baggage of old resentments. And turkey drives a stake through the heart of that effort every time. Turkey divides us like nothing else.
Because, really, turkey defines our values. You tell me how you want to cook your turkey, and I can tell you everything I need to know about you. And in times of fear and uncertainty, the talk about turkey really heats up. People who used to keep their opinions about turkey to themselves now suddenly feel called to speak out. There’s no compromising on turkey the way we used to: You can cook it in the bag as long as you use grandma’s mixture of herbs and spices. No, it’s all or nothing, this way or that, the whole enchilada. (Don’t even get me going on turkey enchiladas).
And at the end of the day, after the name-calling, bruised egos, and encampments of family refusing to speak to one another, we end up with a cold bird no one has the stomach for, no matter how it was cooked in the end. Fear makes turkey so much tougher. It makes a lot of things tougher. *Just ask Isaiah. Or Zechariah. They both lived in times of fear, fear that was real, fear that divided communities, tore apart families.
As John has talked about before, the prophesy of Isaiah was written throughout three distinct periods in the history of God’s people. The first part of Isaiah is written to a people in fear of attack, people willing to make a deal with the devil to save their collective hide. The second part of Isaiah, where we find the text we heard this morning, is written to a people who have been defeated, who are living in exile, fearful of losing their identity, their values, their faith. The third part of Isaiah is written as those exiles begin to return to the ruins of their former kingdom, fearful that they will never recover from the desolation of their homeland.
*Fear permeates each part of this prophesy. Fear that is real. Fear of loss of power, loss of place, loss of identity, loss of hope. Prophesy often emerges in times of fear. Prophets are able to answer those hard questions fear brings up: “why is this happening?” “What are we supposed to do?” “How can we change our situation?” When we are tempted to place blame, find a scapegoat, entrench ourselves in seclusions of safety, prophets call us to see God’s plan, do God’s will, and live in new ways. Brian McLaren says that prophets as the custodians of the “best hopes, desires, and dreams of their society.”
*Unlike Isaiah, Zechariah wasn’t a known prophet of the people of Israel. He’s often a minor, forgotten character in the cast of the nativity of Jesus. In fact, Luke’s gospel is the only one that makes any mention of him at all. But it is a significant dimension of his gospel narrative. Each gospel writer begins in a different way, to make a different point about the life of Jesus. Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus. Mark jumps right into the adult John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness. And John begins with his mystical prologue about the Word of God.
But Luke, he begins with Zechariah. Zechariah, a priest who was “righteous before God,” “living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord.” But he and his wife were “getting on in years” and had no children. Zechariah’s story is a narrative of fear. Living in first-century Palestine, under the rule of the Roman Empire, his people had much to fear. Their way of life was eroding, they were being crippled with taxes, their leaders were compromising their deepest-held values to gain favor with the Emperor.
Zechariah personally had plenty to fear as well. He and his wife were getting on in years, and they had no children. No one to care for them as they aged, to protect them in a society where only the able-bodied flourished. Childlessness not only made a couple vulnerable; it made them a disgrace. The only reasonable explanation, according to the theology of the day, was that they had displeased God is some way. They may have appeared to be righteous and blameless, but some secret sin must be keeping them barren.
When Zechariah’s lot is drawn, and he’s tasked with burning incense in the sanctuary, he is gripped by another kind of fear - when an angel of God appears to him. The angel’s first words to him are, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah.”
*Over a hundred and fifty times throughout scripture, we hear these words. Do not be afraid. When God comes to the childless Abram in a vision; when God comes to comfort the destitute Hagar in the wilderness; when Moses encourages the Israelites as they flee Egypt, facing the abyss of the Red Sea. From the Israelite prophets we hear these words. Isaiah saying, “do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God.” Zechariah’s namesake, in his ancient prophesy, saying, “Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.” In a dream, Joseph hears “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” An angel tells Mary “do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” The angels tell the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”
Do not be afraid.
You’d think we’d get it. And yet. Here we are. Afraid. Filled with fear, in fact. Afraid for ourselves. Afraid for our nation. Afraid for our world.
The stakes are high. The consequences are dire. We all have something to lose. We fear that our way of life is eroding. We fear economic instability. We fear that our values are not being represented. No matter how you cook your turkey. We are all afraid.
And at the risk of being labeled a Star Wars fanatic, I’m going to quote Yoda once again. You all know this one. *“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” My son keeps quoting this to me. And I’m grateful for the reminder.
This is more than good advice. It is a prophesy. And in times of fear, prophesy is what we need. Prophesy that calls us to see God’s plan, do God’s will, and live in new ways. *Prophets like Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” *Prophets like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote, “We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” Prophets like Zechariah who proclaimed that God had raised up a mighty savior so that we might serve God without fear.
The Bible’s repetitive instruction, “do not be afraid,” is nothing less than an essential component to God’s redemptive plan for the creation. Because if we try to serve God with fear, what we end up with is self-preservation, which some theologians assert is the origin of all human sin. Serving God with fear means that we claim God for our side over and against our enemy rather than acknowledging God’s love for our enemy, seeing them as a fellow human being made in God’s image. Serving God with fear means that we claim God’s blessing and favor, believing that we deserve what we have been given and more, and that those who are in need are outside of God’s beloved and chosen ones. Serving God with fear is a dangerous path to the dark side, and one we have travelled many times.
The call to serve God without fear is one of the most profound calls we can hear and answer. It is the call of the prophet. It is the calling to the prophet. Zechariah’s prophesy is fulfilled in his son, John, the one who calls God’s people to repentance, who will make ready a people prepared to serve God without fear. Serving God without fear is the opposite of self-preservation. It calls us to self-sacrifice. It calls us to follow the One who would sacrifice all, who would give up his life on a cross.
So my question for us today is: are we those people prepared to serve God without fear? Can we be prophetic in this time of fear, proclaiming the love and justice, the good news of Jesus Christ?
Maybe, if we can do this, next Thanksgiving we will live into Zechariah’s prophesy. We will know forgiveness, the “dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” We will see Martin Luther King’s prophesy of the arc of the universe bending toward justice. We will experience Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s prophesy, seeing people in light of what they suffer.
And maybe then, we can all enjoy some turkey. Amen.
Rev. Dr. John Judson
November 20, 2016
Isaiah 6: 1-13, Matthew 9:9-13
I feel this morning a bit like Rod Serling, on the Twilight Zone. I offer this morning, two ways in which people have used scripture. The first is an interview of the senator who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee. The topic was global warming. “Senator, we’re going to talk about your book for a minute, you state in your book which by the way is called The Greatest Hoax, you state in your book that one of your favorite Bible verses, Genesis 8:22, ‘while the earth remaineth seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,’ what is the significance of these verses to this issue (of global warming)? Senator: Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” In other words, there is nothing that we as human beings can do that would negatively impact the climate because the climate does only what God commands it to do.
The second was the way in which the people of Judah in the time of Isaiah understood the role of God in their nation. God was their protector. God was their defender. As long as the people carried out their sacrificial duties God would insure their success. It didn’t matter if the crushed the poor. It didn’t matter if they broke most of the commandments. It didn’t matter that the great Empires of Assyria and later Babylonia were surging toward them. They did not have to fear. They were God’s chosen people. And in their possession were the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. God would never let them fall. God would never desert them. In other words, there was nothing they could do, or any empire could do that would negatively impact their lives because God would not let it happen. So the question for us this morning is how did the Senator and the nation of Judah come to these two rather remarkable conclusions? The answer is that they only listened to one voice in scripture.
What I mean by that is that scripture does not speak with a single voice. It is not like a novel in which the author offers us a consistent literary point of view. Scripture is history, and poetry, and theology, and parables, and prophetic utterance, and saga and well, I think you get the point. Scripture is contradictory and complimentary. Scripture offers us different views on holiness, and power and kingship and the role of the messiah. Scripture, is written across centuries and centuries, in different cultures, under different conditions. What this all means is that we can prove whatever we want to prove out of scripture…especially when we only listen to one voice; to one strand; to one tradition; to one point of view. The Senator believes in the strand of tradition that God will never abandon this creation. That God will save us from ourselves. Yet what he fails to do is to hear the writer of Revelation saying that God will destroy the destroyers of God’s earth; meaning there are consequences for the creation and for ourselves, of our actions. The people of Judah failed to hear Isaiah when said that their cities would lie waste without inhabitants, until the land is utterly desolate; which is was happened because the people refused to listen.
Listening to a single voice in scripture is like driving a car that only turn left at 90 degrees. You are driving along and see a pothole in the road. You make a slight adjustment causes you to swerve across oncoming traffic and end up in the ditch on the far side of the road. In other words, listening to a single voice is what gets us as human beings in trouble. Listening to a single voice is what led the church to persecute the Jews. Listening to a single voice is what led the church to demean women. Listening to a single voice is what led the church to ostracize members of the LGBTQ community. Listening to a single voice is what led to slavery. Listening to a single voice is what led us to the Crusades and the slaughter of tens of thousands. As I said a moment ago we can prove and defend anything we want by listening to only a single voice; a voice that agrees with all of our preconceived notions and prejudices. What we are called upon to do then is to listen to all of the voices; to listen to multiple voices that may or may not tell us what we want to hear, yet tell us what we need to hear. And if we are looking for an example, we need to look no further than Jesus.
In our morning’s Jesus’ story, we find Jesus out on the road again. He calls Matthew, a tax collector, to be a disciple. He then eats with sinners and tax collectors. In some ways this is one of those stories that we use so often that it loses its importance. Yet it is a place in which Jesus asks people to listen to a different story; a story that they may not have considered in a while. The primary story that guided many Jews in Jesus’ time was what I call the holiness story. This story called on Jews to be ritually pure by carefully following the rules and regulations of the Second Temple period. A large part of these rules had to do with having no contact with those people and objects which were ritually unclean. This would have included sinners and tax collectors. This is why the people around Jesus wondered why he was eating with such people. In response Jesus offers a different story. He quotes the prophet Hosea, who says, “I desire mercy not sacrifice”, meaning that what God desires is compassion for outsiders rather than judgment stemming from rules and regulations. Notice that Jesus does not condemn the holiness tradition, but instead adds something new to it, a call to love and compassion.
Hearing different stories. That is what we are to be about. The question then is how do we do this? There are many ways, but the one I would suggest this morning is to join one of our We Make the Road by Walking Groups. I say this for two reasons. First, the book itself offers us stories to which to listen that we might not otherwise read and consider. The book also offers us a particular perspective on scripture and its application to the world in which we live. The second reason I encourage becoming part of a group is that many of the groups, much like the two in which I participate, are filled with people of different ages, different political persuasions, different religious backgrounds and different ways of seeing life. What happens is that we listen to the stories. We listen to one another. We listen and we are enriched. We are enriched in our ability to consider what God is about in the world; what God wants of us in the world. We don’t answer all of life’s big mysteries. We don’t come out in agreement. But neither of those is the point. The point is that we listen to stories that we might not otherwise hear, so that we can be open to the full story of God in Jesus Christ.
My challenge for you for this week then is this, to ask yourselves, how am I listening to stories that are different from the ones I already know, that I might be enriched as a follower of Jesus Christ?
Rev. Dr. John Judson
November 13, 2016
Psalm 146, Acts 1:1-11
So what do we do now? All the excitement is over. The future is uncertain. Our leader has left us. So what do we do now? I wonder if this is what the disciples were thinking to themselves as they once again watched Jesus be taken from them. Those men and women had been on a three-year campaign, where they crisscrossed the country, making friends, building coalitions and offering a new vision for the Kingdom of God. They had been there at the highs when Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had been there at the lows when Jesus had been arrested, tried and crucified. They were there at the highs when Jesus was resurrected and returned to them. Now, once again, they are at a crossroads. Excitedly they had asked Jesus if the moment had come to restore the kingdom. If the moment had come for God to make everything right in the world; to restore justice, to give sight to the blind and to let the prisoners go free. Jesus answer was, no, you have to wait. So what do they do now?
So what do we do now? What do we do now that the election is over, the votes are counted and there is a winner and a loser. What are we to do when there are protests in the streets, when there are youth at a middle school shouting, “Build a wall, build a wall”, when there are people being beaten and kicked because they supported Trump? What do we do when the nation is divided into two almost equal camps? What are we supposed to do now? Fortunately, we can find our answer in the 146th Psalm.
In this Psalm, the writer offers us two things we ought to be doing. And here they are. First we are not to trust in princes. “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish” (vs. 3-4). The context here is almost self-evident; that we are not to put our trust in leaders whose plans come and go. Now at least we as Americans get to vote people in and out of office. The psalmist had to wait for people to die for the prince and all of his plans to vanish. So we at least get to change administrations every once in a while. But the thought is clear that if we put all of our hope in a human being, sooner or later that human being is going to be out of office. And chances are so much of what they put into practice may just vanish and go away with them.
The subtext here is that we are never to see another human being as our savior. So often as we listen to what was said during this election period was the candidates being lifted up by their supporters as saviors of America. But this isn’t new. This is what we always do. We always take these human beings and invest them with salvific powers. This person is going to save our city, our state, our nation, our world. But how many of you have ever been disappointed by someone you thought was going to be the savior. The subtext is that when we invest in people we will be disappointed because they are not our savior. During the campaign I had considered creating a t-shirt with pictures of Donald and Hillary on the front, with words that read, “I already have a savior and he is not either of these.” I say that because they are human beings involved in a fallible system that never works everything out in the right ways. We are not to trust in princes because they will always disappoint us.
The second thing that the Psalmist teaches us, is that we are to get busy being the people of God. He does so by reminding us of what God does. God executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets the prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watchers over the strangers, upholds the orphan and widow. These are the things that God does. God doesn’t do them by fiat. God doesn’t do them magically. God does them through God’s people. These are the things that the Torah commands God’s people to do. That’s how God accomplishes these things; through God’s own people. These are the marching orders that God gave to the children of Israel and by the way are the marching orders that Jesus gave to his followers. We are to be about these things. Now I want to be very clear here. I am not saying that there is not a role for government because there are important things that the government can and should do. But there are things that the government can’t do. It can’t teach people to love. It can’t teach people to be tolerant. It can’t teach people to forgive. It can’t teach people to be compassionate. It can’t make sure that every child can have a quality education. It can’t make sure every hungry person has something to eat, nor that every homeless person has a warm place to stay during the day in winter months. But you and I can and we are called to do these things. We are called to be light in the darkness. We are called to be a compassionate, loving, welcoming people. We are called to be that safe place in a dangerous and hurting world. We are to be God’s people.
What do we do now? That was the question the disciples asked themselves when they watched Jesus, well, be taken up in a cloud. And what they were reminded of was what Jesus had taught them. First that John had baptized them with water but that the Spirit was coming and that the Spirit was going to touch you and empower you and make you into a different kind of community. And when it gets there you are to go and be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And witnesses here which is not just about telling people who Jesus is, but being that kind of community that the Roman Empire had never seen before. That kind of community in which there were men and women, slave and free, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, as an inclusive community in which every child of God was welcomed in and cared for. And so they fed the hungry, they cared for one another so that no one was in need. Everyone had enough. And because of that people flocked to the church and the church changed the Roman Empire. It changed the world.
So what are we supposed to do now? Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for the Spirit. The Spirit is here now. We are a Spirit filled community. We are not simply a community of likeminded people who get together for great music and to see our friends. We are a Spirit empowered community. The Spirit of God is in our midst. The Spirit of God is in each one of us. And the Spirit is bringing forth gifts in us, both individually and collectively for us to do the work of God in the world. And God does that so we can execute justice, feed the hungry, set the prisoners free, lift up those who are bowed down, watch over strangers and care for the orphan and widow. This is what you and I are called to be and to do. To be God’s people as witnesses to the love and grace and mercy of God in the world.
This then is our challenge, to not get caught up in the hatred, the anger, the blaming and the recrimination. We are instead to be the hands, arms and voice of God in the world as together we help to change this city, this state, this nation and this world. My challenge to you then is this, to ask yourselves, how am I using my gifts to help change this world that it might look more and more like the Kingdom of God with each day that passes.
Rev. Amy Morgan
November 6, 2016
Deuteronomy 7:1-11, Matthew 15:21-39
I’ll admit it: I clicked on it. I followed the link that came up in my Facebook feed. It was just too tempting. The title read: “50 groups/individuals Jesus says you can hate.” Curiosity got the better of me.
I’ll spare you from the same fate I suffered: it was an eye-rolling disappointment. After introducing the list as a scripturally-founded compilation of all those people we are not required by Jesus to love and show mercy toward, after giving us permission to scorn, deride, demonize, and condemn everybody on this list, the piece culminates in a numbered list, 1-50, with nothing but blank space next to each one.
The first thought that came to my head was, “well, duh.” Big surprise. We all know Jesus taught us to love our enemies, bless those who persecute us, welcome the stranger and the outcast, care for the poor and the widow. All Jesus talks about is love and expanding the circle of God’s love to those who would seem to be outsiders. But then we read today’s text, and it seems that maybe there is one person, at least, who it seems might be on this list of people Jesus says it’s okay to hate.
Jesus and his disciples have just entered the district of Tyre and Sidon. Now, these names don’t mean much to us today, though they are still port cities in Lebanon. But for Jesus and his disciples, this would have been like entering New York City, or the Hamptons. Or, maybe Birmingham and Bloomfield. These were regions of wealth and privilege. They were major trade cities on the Mediterranean Sea, a channel for goods from Macedonia and Egypt, all of the known world, to the inlands of first-century Palestine.
And just as Jesus and his crew hit 14-mile and Woodward, this woman comes along, let’s call her Sally, since scripture seems to have trouble remembering women’s names. Sally has a child possessed by a demon, a child with special needs, a child who doesn’t behave, a child who says bad words, a child who is addicted to drugs, who abuses alcohol, who is mentally ill, who is a bully, who is gay, who is transgender. Sally has spent her life concealing her daughter’s condition, apologizing for it, spending vast sums of money on phony physicians and experimental remedies. She’s learned to be her daughter’s advocate and defender, even as this has caused her to lose friends and become alienated by her family.
This woman is not Jewish. The gospel of Mark calls her Syrophoenician, a description from the first-century landscape. But Matthew labels her a Canaanite, tying her to the people-group driven out of the Holy Land when the people of Israel arrived. She probably looks like a Syrian. She might be the ancestor of Muslims. Maybe she worships the Canaanite gods Baal, Ashera, or Melkart. Or perhaps under the influence of the surrounding cultures she worships the Roman emperor, or the Greek pantheon. Or maybe she’s an atheist. And maybe that’s why Jesus feels like he can ignore her, call her names, dare I say, hate her. Calling someone a female dog in ancient Aramaic is not any nicer than it sounds in 21st century English.
Maybe Jesus had his reasons to hate and insult this woman, but isn’t this the same Jesus who taught people to “love their enemies” and to value mercy over legal technicalities? Didn’t he welcome women and tax collectors, sinners and outcasts into his tribe of followers? Where does this exclusionary and offensive behavior come from? It is totally inconsistent with the rest of Jesus’ life and ministry.
Plenty of preachers and commentators have attempted to explain this scene as Jesus acting within the context of his culture. He might be divine, but as a human, he is still subject to human cultural norms. And his poor treatment of this woman is overshadowed by the fact that in the end he changes his mind and heals a person of Canaanite decent. Isn’t that radical?
But I’m sorry, I can’t believe in a Jesus who would ignore and insult any woman who has a child with special needs begging for help. There’s no excuse for that. There’s a lot I don’t understand about God in Jesus Christ, and today this just has to be one of those things. I can’t excuse or explain what Jesus does here and turn it into a feel-good after-school special about inclusion and compassion. I just have to sit uncomfortably with this episode.
And this may be the only time you ever hear me say this, but it is unfortunate that many churches model Jesus’ behavior in this situation. We’ve all heard that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week in America, and there is good reason for that. Because we are modeling Jesus’ behavior. We are the church for those who look like us, believe like us, behave like us, belong to our tribe. We are sent only to the educated, the suburbanites, the English-speakers, the literate, the sober, the gainfully employed. We are sent only to the white, or the black, or the Latino. We are sent only to the Catholic, or the Chaldean, or the Baptist, or the Presbyterian. The church does a spectacular job of narrowing the scope of her mission. Well done in following in the footsteps of Jesus.
And so the miracle that takes place in this text is not the healing of Sally’s daughter. The miracle is that Sally sticks around long enough to demand it. When she is excluded and insulted, she doesn’t storm off in a huff and bad-mouth Jesus and his followers. She doesn’t return evil for evil, ignoring or insulting Jesus in response. She turns the other cheek. She humbles herself. She models the kind of behavior we’d expect from, well, Jesus.
And she uses the same kind of rhetoric and wordplay that we see Jesus use throughout his ministry and teaching. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” She is not asking to be included. She is not offering to convert. She is not hoping to be anything more than a dog to Jesus.
The faith that Jesus commends in her is not a conversion to Judaism or to a not-yet existent Christianity. Her faith is not belief in Jesus as the Jewish messiah.
Sally’s faith is the trust that with Jesus, even Jesus at his worst, things can get better. It is a faith that Jesus can do better. It is a faith that stands up and demands mercy, justice, and truth. It is a faith that does not slink back into self-pity. It does not run home and vent about “those people” and post on Facebook about how we’ve been wronged. It is a faith like Jacob’s that wrestles with God and demands a blessing, even if we get injured in the process. It is a faith that will not accept absolutes and status quo and “that’s just the way it is.”
I don’t know if this woman changed Jesus’ mind, or if this was all a set-up for her to demonstrate her faith. But I do know that after this encounter, Jesus heals and feeds a crowd of thousands of non-Jews. There is no more of this “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" business.
We’ve got an election happening this week, folks. And plenty of churches around this country feel like they are the church only for Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or people who think we shouldn’t vote for anybody. I hope we don’t model Jesus’ behavior this week.
Instead, I hope we model Sally’s behavior, which in this case happens to be more Christ-like than Christ’s. I hope we demonstrate a faith that believes that the Body of Christ, even at its worst, has the power to heal, to make things better. A faith that looks past our political parties and tribes and divisions and demands mercy and justice and truth. A faith that doesn’t walk away hurt, that doesn’t respond in kind to wrongdoing, that doesn’t ignore offensive behavior. Let’s have that kind of faith this week. Let’s be that kind of church. Because that is the faith that leads to healing.
If you want to join me on Election Day this Tuesday, I will be here from the time the polls open here at the church until they close. This is my polling place, my community, my church. And we will be showing hospitality, handing out coffee, fostering conversation, encouraging kindness and patience, promoting mercy and humility and peace – all day long. We will do this as we plead and pray for healing.
And we will invite the whole community to come together on Wednesday evening here in the sanctuary to pray for healing and hope for our nation. Like the Canaanite woman, we will witness to the truth that God’s blessing, God’s healing, God’s promises are not exclusive. With humility and reverence, with courage and perseverance, we will pray that God heals this country possessed by fear and partisanship, hatred and anger and contempt. We will demand scraps from the table if we must, but we believe that the Body of Christ can cast out these demons and restore us to life.
Because we are Everybody’s Church. And we do believe that the list of those we are permitted to hate is blank. And when we behave to the contrary, we are grateful for those who remind us to see that everyone is welcome at Christ’s table, and everyone is worthy of God’s healing, and everyone is a child of God. Amen.