Someone is hurting our people and it’s gone on far too long and we cannot be silent anymore.

Jun 21, 2020   •  
Pentecost 3 A   Proper 7

 “A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content—pleased, even—when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?  “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now. “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands. “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.  “Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you? “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me. “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. Matthew 10:24-39 The Message (a bible paraphrase by Eugene Peterson) 

Here is the audio file of the sermon:

 

Matthew’s Gospel tells us today what Jesus wants us to learn.  We preachers often focus on the saying that you are worth more to God than a canary, drifting back four chapters so we are talking about the lilies of the valley and how we should not worry, we are loved.  So we do what lots do, when there is a difficult truth—we duck.

So yes, you should know that you are worth more than a million canaries. So that is good, and there are some other tougher things to hear in this chunk o’ gospel. We are told not to be bullied into being silent. We are called people, by Jesus, we are called by our highmindedness, we are called by the brokenness of the world to look up and see. The Poor People’s Campaign, a Call for Moral Revival, would tell us, call to us in the words of the spiritual:

Someone is hurting our people and it’s gone on far too long and we cannot be silent anymore.

The Poor People’s Campaign was in our building in 2018 and I remember this moment, when I swear it happened this way. I went downstairs to greet the folks who had shown up and it was the organizers. One of the women asked me to stay as they prayed. Of course. And she started to sing a call and response. We stood in a circle together, and as we responded the doors to the parish hall opened up and a couple of people joined us and then more and more. We stepped back and expanded the circle again and again and as we expanded finally our circle was as big as the parish hall. That is the call, that is what we are called to do and to be. Ever-expanding and ever more part of the circle.

 Someone is hurting our people and it’s gone on Far too long and we cannot be silent anymore.

 Over the next month, I heard firsthand testimony/witness about these issues and more:

  • Fewer voter rights
  • 140 million poor or low income
  • Imprison and detain more people esp. poor people than anywhere else in the world
  • 8 million U.S. households cannot afford water
  • 53 cents on every federal discretionary dollar goes to military spending and 15 cents to anti-poverty programs
  • Environmental racism, asthma in cities, cancer clusters, fracking poisoning water

Someone is hurting our people and it’s gone on Far too long and we cannot be silent anymore.

if you have not had a chance to listen and watch the Poor People’s Campaign virtual rally it is on again today. Learn about it, and let’s get more involved. It will be shown again at 6 pm today. It is a three-hour transformative experience.

Because here is the thing. We need to continue to do our work. We cannot let our attention waver from the brokenness of the world.

  • We need to continue to work to the reality of Black Lives Matter and then all lives can matter.
  • If we do not focus on poverty and curing that we will continue to let a very few pit low income and poor folks against each other.
  • If we focus only on POC in the cities, the poor folks who do not have water or food will never hear the message of whiteness being the problem.
  • We have so much work to do and as the paraphrase of Matthew’s gospel calls to us, we cannot get cozy.
  • We must speak our truths, we must change the world, we must be a both/and people.

Someone is hurting our people and it’s gone on Far too long and we cannot be silent anymore.

Amen.

 

Prayer from the Diocese of West Missouri

We pray, O Lord, for change. Change the easy peace we make with ourselves into discontent because of the oppression of others. Change our tendency to defend ourselves into the freedom that comes from being forgiven and empowered through your love. Change our need for disguises, excuses, and images into the ability to be honest with ourselves and open with one another. Change our inclination to judge others into a desire to serve and uplift others. And most of all, Lord, change our routine worship and work into genuine encounter with you and our better selves so that our lives will be changed for the good of all.  Amen