Pastor Dick Dahl has given us a wonderful homily this week and I am very grateful to him for that. He has lived up to this time of “challenge” that Ordinary Time always is and gifted us with much to reflect on.
As always, if I can be of any help to you or you just want to chat, don’t hesitate to call, 507-429-3616 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe and well–
Peace and love, Pastor Kathy
Within your house, O God, we ponder your loving kindness—we raise up your name and bless you forever and ever—you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, compassionate toward all and just in all your ways. We sing your praises to the ends of the earth.
Let Us Pray
Good and gentle God, help us always to live in your Spirit, just as Jesus lived among us through this same Spirit. Enable us to always model our lives after Jesus, our brother and friend, who lives with you, God, in the Spirit, forever and ever—AMEN.
- Zechariah 9: 9-10
- Romans 8:9, 11-13
- Matthew 11: 25-30
Homily from Pastor Dick Dahl—
In his current best-selling book, How To Be An Anti- Racist, Ibram X. Kendi describes that when his parents were college students and before they knew each other, they joined one hundred other Black New Yorkers on a 24-hour bus ride to the University of Illinois to a conference sponsored there by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, the U.S. evangelical movement’s premier college organizer.
The keynote speaker for the second day was Tom Skinner. Earlier in his life Skinner had come to worship an elite White Jesus Christ who cleaned people up through “rules and regulations,” prefiguring some politicians’ vision of law and order. But Skinner said that one day he realized he’d gotten Jesus wrong.
Skinner’s new idea of Jesus was born of and committed to a new reading of the gospel. Skinner declared, “Any gospel that does not…speak to the issue of enslavement” and “injustice” and “inequality—any gospel that does not want to go where people are hungry and poverty-stricken and set them free in the name of Jesus Christ—is not the gospel.”
The system that flourished like that in the days of Jesus continues like a cancer today. The authorities then saw Jesus as dangerous because he was challenging the system to change. That’s why he was locked up, nailed to a cross, killed and buried.
But we believe that three days later he came out of the grave to proclaim liberation to the captives, sight to the blind, and to have his followers go into the world and tell all who are bound mentally, spiritually and physically, “The liberator has come!”
“Liberator” is the word Skinner used in place of Savior. I find it dynamic and meaningful. A Christian is a person who is striving for liberation. Christians cannot accept the status quo when its policies produce or sustain patterns of severe injustice and inequity between racial groups.
However, our Liberator did not march in at the head of a military army. In the first reading today Zechariah marvels at “how humbly your king comes to you.” He will banish weapons of war and proclaim peace.
Jesus never said this would be easy or quick. But without justice for all there can never be peace. In a sense, this is what Matthew quotes Jesus as saying. One doesn’t have to be learned to see this. It’s obvious to little children. They haven’t come up with rationalizations and excuses to hypocritically justify the unjustifiable.
Systematic injustice exists and has existed here in Winona as well as throughout the nation. Its results are expressed in education, policing, housing, and employment.
Two weeks ago over 200 people attended a rally at Winona Senior High School at which former and current staff members, parents and students of color spoke about a lifetime of racist insults and slights they experienced and the dismissal of their complaints by school officials. They described the unequal treatment given to white and black students for identical offenses.
Kendi writes, “Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities. A racist policy is any measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups. Racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequities.” Many look at people whose lives have been affected by those policies and criticize them for how they live or behave. Yes differences divide and alienate. They spontaneously give rise to speaking of “them,” the people not in the room with us, the fear of the other.
Listening, really listening, seeking to find something in common, refusing to be alienated by words I disagree with are challenges that many (probably most) of us find enormously difficult, in fact almost impossible, to do. The writer Parker Palmer approaches this from many angles, but powerfully connects it to Lincoln’s attitude, “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies.”
How does change then come about? Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans, “To belong to Christ, one must have the Spirit of Christ. You are in the Spirit who dwells in you.” I think we can understand his admonition and charge this way: “We must not live according to unjust systems that cheat and degrade and brutalize our sisters and brothers. We live by the Spirit when we put to death systems of injustice.”
Do people get weary in this struggle? Of course they do. This past week Father Richard Rohr ended one of his daily meditations with this story from a man named Tom W: I run a food pantry in . . . Massachusetts. During the pandemic, the number of families we serve has doubled, and so has the tonnage of food we distribute. At times the task can be daunting. The readings and resulting prayers [of the Daily Meditations] have shifted my thinking. I no longer think of our work as service, but as an act of solidarity, of becoming one with our neighbors. Service implies a vertical relationship, one above another. Solidarity calls for a horizontal, two-way relationship between equals, one to one. Of course, God is at the center of it all. “
All Are One, as far as I have seen, is an all-white community—not by design or intention, but in fact. As a result—despite the problems that exist in each of our lives—we have been protected, and benefited by years and years of privilege that has been denied to our brothers and sisters of color.
We may not be individually responsible for this privilege, but we need to recognize it and the ways in which others are daily denied it. Changing systematic policies that have benefited some at the cost of others first requires awareness. Then it requires unrelenting action. It requires the power of the Spirit acting in us as members of different communities—religious, social, political.
We are each called by the Spirit in different ways. Jesus calls us to take his yoke upon ourselves and learn from him. The Spirit calls some to prepare and distribute meals. It calls others to take political action, especially to get out the vote. Kendi writes, “We all have the power to discriminate. Only an exclusive few have the power to make policy.”
As Stacy Abrams said in an Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) interview on Tuesday, (I’m paraphrasing) “I can’t be sure that voting will change things as they need to be changed, but I know for sure that failing to vote will not bring about needed change.”
What is the Spirit calling me—and you—to do?
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
- For our community, All Are One, continue to send your Spirit upon us to enable us to be an inclusive community, open and welcoming to all, we pray—
Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
2. For each of us here and for our entire Church, help us to respond with love and care to each and every person we meet, and additionally, in these times, let us be hope for each other, each and every day, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
3. For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body, mind or spirit, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
4. For our brothers and sisters throughout our country who are suffering from our racist culture—be with each one and give them your deep and abiding peace to know that somehow, all will be well, as you God open hearts to see the ways we have failed in this regard, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
- For our world and its people, that we might begin to study earnestly the ways of peace and then do whatever is necessary to turn our backs on the ways of war and conflict, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
6. For each of us here and for our wider Church, that we would realize today and always what a loving and compassionate God we have, slow to anger and rich in kindness, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from Covid 19 and in all other ways—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, hear our prayer.”
***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, we pray, then response
Let Us Pray
Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom. We ask that you would give us peace—filled and loving hearts—the energy to always seek after peace through the gifts of lovingkindness and mercy. Give us understanding and mercy that we might see what our black and brown sisters and brothers have lived with for so long and make the necessary and needed changes—now. Help us to remember that our real task in this world as followers of Jesus, our brother, is to love Your people and this world. We ask that we might have the strength for this great task. All this we ask of you, Jesus, in union with the Creator and the Spirit, one God who lives and loves us forever and ever—AMEN.
Let Us Pray—Again, my friends, we can’t meet and receive communion in a physical way, so we must remember that we are Jesus to each other and that he is present in all we meet if we have eyes to see.
Prayer after Communion
Jesus, our brother and friend, may we always praise you and thank you for the gift of the Eucharist that we have just received. May your words of love and care, “Come to me and I will give you rest” always resound in our hearts and draw us back. All this we ask of you who lives and loves us forever and ever—AMEN.