Sermons & News

But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. (1 Thessalonians 3: 6)

5/29/20

Beloved in Christ,

My heart is aching for many reasons today.  We crossed the threshold of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, which does not account for those who have died due to the mental anguish caused by our current context.  The stress caused by being in quarantine has most people feeling anxious, which is exacerbated for those already dealing with anxiety.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, PLEASE talk with me or someone you trust! You are not alone in this time of uncertainty. God’s love remains constant and is with us in this.

Unfortunately, stress can cause rational people to act irrationally. I do not know all the facts about what happened in Minneapolis with the death of George Floyd, however his death is tragic and a travesty. I understand that police have procedures which become instinctual to protect themselves and society, but at some point, we – as a society – need to stop seeing each other as "the enemy."  I’m not naïve enough to believe everyone is good, but I cannot judge someone based solely on skin color.  The roots of racism are embedded in the history of this country and we have not yet atoned for this sin as it continues to pervade our interactions on a daily basis.

Yes, we are all feeling the stress of our current situation, but that does not sanction brutal force to subdue a suspect.  And while I acknowledge the frustration, fear and outright anger about Mr. Floyd’s death, I cannot condone setting fire to a building.  Normally I have no issue with protests, but I am scared that such gatherings will put more lives in danger due to the virus as well as mob mentality, when clear thinking is abandoned.  And yes, I recognize my white privilege to stay at home and comment from the sidelines.  But I must engage in the reality of racism or, by my silence, I tacitly condone actions and behaviors I believe are against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us to love our enemies, which is one of his most difficult teachings.  I do not believe he wanted us to approve of actions that are harmful or destructive. Rather, he instructed us to remember that "the other" is HUMAN.  As soon as we start to dehumanize our enemy, it becomes easier to treat that person as nonhuman and thus not something we need to love.  I am guilty of doing this to people I disagree with, and I know it is wrong.  It is painfully hard to stop my self-righteous anger and recognize what I am doing to change my reaction to that person.  It is especially difficult when our emotions are already ratcheted up due to this stressful situation.  I cannot expect others to change their responses if I cannot model what I believe a disciple of Jesus should do.

Medford is almost 95% white, which some might think means we don’t have to worry about racism.  That would be an incorrect conclusion. We must be aware that this homogeneity is unusual in the world and can insulate us from the realities of interacting with people who are obviously different from us.  We must be courageous and accept that what happened in Minneapolis and New York City and all over the country affects us as well.  This may be out of our comfort zone, which is a good thing, because that is where we learn and grow.  And it is in those margins, the places where Jesus offered most of his ministry, where we find God.

If you are interested in learning about how to be an antiracist, our Diocese offers an excellent training that has been adapted for on-line learning.  I believe a session will run in July and as soon as I have more information about that, I will share it with you.

Please continue to pray without ceasing.  This is the adapted prayer for the Human Family from our Book of Common Prayer (p. 815):

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and people of all ethnicities may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With Easter Joy,

Rev. Valerie+

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