Holy Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2020
Holy Wisdom Sunday Assembly, Terry Larson
Genesis 1, I Corinthians 13, Matthew 28
This Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a divine mystery which is very difficult for us to wrap our minds around. But we do our best. Two weeks ago I finished a perky homily on these texts which I felt pretty good about…words of comfort and hope that God creator, redeemer, sustainer would fully be with us through these difficult days of the pandemic. And then when the corona virus pandemic was over, we’d live happily ever after living in God’s presence. (pause)
Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, in Patti Lacrosse’s fine homily, she read a quote from a woman named Roxanne Gay which gave me a new, and very unsettling perspective:(I quote) ‘The rest of the world yearns to get back to normal. For black people, normal is the very thing from which we yearn to be free.’ Then, early in the week, the eight minute video of the murder of George Floyd left us stunned and truly horrified. The anger over his death as well as the long list of people who had been brutally killed in recent weeks lead to world-wide, nation-wide, state-wide, and local demonstrations and violence. So now is not the time for fluffy words. Things have changed in these past two weeks. No, maybe not changed, but the pandemic of racism finally cannot be ignored. It cannot be ignored by us who proclaim to be followers of the triune God. It cannot be ignored by the Church…
Howard Thurman, in the book ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’, written in 1949, called out white Christians. He wrote: ‘Religion is a defender and guarantor of segregation….Doomed on earth to a fixed and unremitting status of inferiority, of which segregation is symbolic, and at the same time cut off from the hope the Creator intended otherwise, we are stripped of all social protection.’ Thurman’s words haunt us as we see incident after incident where the very people who are supposed to protect all citizens are instead harming them.
We could, I suppose, throw the police under the bus for being racist for we are not wanting to be racist; I am not wanting to be racist. I celebrate the peaceful demonstrations of hurt and anger. There was a peaceful march down Main Street in Sun Prairie on Thursday…hundreds walking to show solidarity with all whose lives are in danger because of racism. Because I/we are not being overtly racist we could maybe try to keep racism at arm’s length. But that’s not helpful, nor is it right. For those of us who are privileged whites, we must see ourselves as part of the problem in order to be part of the solution!
A book I’ve been reading in these past days is entitled ‘Dear Church…and sub-titled ‘A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.’ Sue and I are part of that whitest denomination…The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America…so this book gets kind of personal. His hard-hitting words are directed at us progressive, open-minded folk who think we understand racism. He refuses to accept the excuses of why we don’t have people of color in our churches…’they’ don’t like our music, our liturgy, our preaching, our printed prayers, our statues of Jesus which make him look Norwegian. He writes: ‘The truth is much more insidious. The truth is that evil stalks the world and our call together as church. And this evil is much vaster than we could have ever imagined. We have lost the ability to name evil for what it is. Ask any person of color or LGBTQ person in this church, and they will tell you that evil is real and it stalks their neighborhood and community. That it has followed them around a store while they were shopping. It shamed them in high school for being who they were. It posts on blogs claiming to expose them. Evil is a system that infects us even in our holiest moments.’
Yes, racism and all the other ‘ism’s’ are infections. And none of us, even good church people like us, are immune. So, as the psalmist asks in Psalm 121…’From where will my help come?’ And then immediately answers that rhetorical question with the declaration: ‘My help comes from God, who made heaven and earth!’
Yes! Our reading from Genesis this morning:
And God said,
“Let us make human beings in our image, according to our likeness;
….. So God created human beings in God’s own image,
in the image of God they were created;
male and female God created them.
God creates all human beings in God’s own image…wonderfully diverse, amazingly different, all related to God and to one another. And the wonder of this life-giving, redeeming, loving-sustaining God is that dynamic triune presence which inoculates us with that same love for one another.
In his book, Rev. Duncan offers some specific ideas about how we can live out that difficult love of one another. He writes: ‘Get out of Holy Saturday! Stand with Jesus at the dawn and resist. Resist closing our borders from the world. Resist the narrative that only wealth can make this world whole. Resist war and all its manifestations. Resist nativism and the national delusion that we are more special than any other land or people. Resist the idea that the ballot box or either party will save us. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Resist anything that doesn’t line up with the arc of the gospel. Resist as if our lives depended on it…because they do!’
We pray for God to empower us to courageous resistance of evil. In a minute we will sing the beautiful hymn ‘God Beyond All Names.’ I particularly like verse 3: ‘God beyond all words, all creation tells your story, you have shaken with our laughter, you have trembled with our tears. All around us we have known you, all creation lives to hold you, in our living and our dying, we are bringing you to birth.’ What a promise! – God with us in our laughter and tears, our living and dying as we bring God’s life and hope to the world through God’s Spirit.
African-American poet Lucille Clifton has the last word. Her poem brings life and hope to our world. Her poem ‘Listen Children’:
keep this in the place
you have for keeping
keep it all ways
we have never hated black
we have been ashamed
hopeless tired mad
we loved us
we have always loved each other
children all ways
pass it on’
Oh to be loving each other always in all ways. God, creator, redeemer, sustainer, is that for us. May we be that for one another. Amen.