Below, a sermon preached on June 20th, 2015 in the wake of the Charleston AME church massacre. The call on white Christians to respond to violence rooted in white supremacy and systemic racism remains urgent and necessary. We cannot be silent. We cannot look away. To respond to white supremacy and systemic racism is required of Christian discipleship. Take heart friends, and be of good courage. As St. Paul advises, we are called to respond to chaos and fear with genuine love, truthful speech and endurance. Show Up. Speak Truth. Amplify the voices, stories, and experiences of Black Vocies. Be a co-conspirator for racial reconiliation and justice.
In today’s epistle from the Apostle Paul to the early Christians—and in the Gospel lesson from Mark—we hear that Christianity—more than anything—is a response
—not an explanation.
In the face of unexplainable chaos and fear—Christianity Responds.
We are given an example of how to respond to chaos and fear and trembling in today’s Gospel.
First, the disciples respond with a lament—as the waves crash over board and the wind rages and they fear for their lives the disciples cry out to Jesus—“Do you not care that we are perishing?”
And, then, Jesus responds to the wind and floodwaters and chaos—with the command:
“Peace! Be Still!”
He responds to the violent storm with a command for Peace. A call for stillness.
Jesus does not explain away the storm or the fear. He responds.
In our reading from Paul to the Corinthians we are reminded that early Christians lived in a storm of brutal religious persecution. Paul instructs the early Christians to respond to persecution with genuine love, truthful speech, and endurance.
In light of the tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina at Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church—we too are called as Christians to respond.
Here we are—gathered for Christian worship—in the wake of a hate crime—motivated by fear and white supremacy—nine Christians dead because of the color of their skin. In 2015. In America.
We are Christians.
And, we must respond.
We can, like the disciples, respond with a lamentation and a cry for help: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
And we can wait for the dead calm that follows the storm.
But, listen to what Jesus says to the disciples after He quiets the storm--
Jesus turns to the disciples and says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
This rebuke from Jesus sounds a lot like, “Why aren’t YOU doing something to steer the ship? Why didn’t YOU calm the storm? Why did you let YOUR fear and YOUR little faith stop you from responding?”
Jesus calls on His disciples—on us—to more than lamentation.
Jesus calls on us to quiet the storm. To be agents of peace and fearless faith.
EVEN as we are tossed about, threatened by a great windstorm, in a boat already swamped by raging waters.
US. We’re the ones the Gospel calls on to stand in the storm and respond to chaos with a cry for Peace.
Christians do not tolerate racism. Not with our silence and not with our fear.
We don’t avoid the storm. We don’t stay on dry land. We move—with Jesus—over the waters—into the storm--
As Paul instructs the early Christians in today’s epistle, we are called to respond to persecution and hate with great endurance, holiness of spirit, genuine love, and truthful speech.
It is not enough to pray—to lament—this is essential and must be done—here—in this place—at this altar –with one another--
But if we lament and if we pray we can expect Jesus to call on us to move out into the troubled waters and bring stillness and peace to the chaos.
June 20, 2015
Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 7
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Phoenix
My Sermons (and other thoughts)
a sampling of sermons preached in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and a sprinkling of other reflections