Again, my thanks to Pastor Dick Dahl for standing in for me last weekend supplying us with a fine homily–my gratitude, Dick!
Another week and we still find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be lessening…but we have renewed hope in each other that as we do our own part, change and good, can happen! We certainly can look forward to being able to celebrate via ZOOM in two weeks time!
In the meantime may we all stay safe and remember that we are each, loved by our God–peace and my love to each of you, Pastor Kathy
You are good and forgiving, merciful and loving, slow to anger, always kind and merciful O God. We will praise your name forever.
Let Us Pray
Good and Gracious God, you are ever a part of our lives, helping us to grow and produce fruit for your kindom. Help us to trust and believe in you always, to know that your Spirit will always be near us, showing us the way. We ask this in Jesus’ name, our brother and friend, who is God with you and the Spirit, forever and ever, AMEN.
- Isaiah 55: 10-11
- Romans 8: 18-23
- Matthew 13: 1=23
My friends, this Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time brings us once again into the middle of so much controversy in our country. Increasing numbers of infections from COVID 19 are spreading across our 50 states with no apparent end in sight. Individual states have realized that they can’t look to the federal government that from the top is in denial and can see the growing crisis only in terms of how it affects his re-election with total enablement from those in Congress who have the power to make meaningful change.
Each day the unrest among our black sisters and brothers continues in our states and neighborhoods—an unrest that will seemingly not die out until meaningful change in equality for all in this country happens.
The distress verbally expressed by George Floyd more than a month ago in the words, “I can’t breathe,” as he died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer; has become the accumulated cry of 400 years in the hearts and minds of dark-skinned people in this country. Floyd’s blatant death was the last straw in the hearts and minds of black people and thankfully, many supportive white people as well. This, my friends, is not something that will go away until justice is achieved.
A black author, Ibram X. Kendi and a white author, Robin DiAngelo have challenged us—the American people, with two new books that lay out the times that we collectively face. Kendi’s book, How to be Anti-Racist and DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, both let us know that racism is in our culture, so deep that most of us are unaware that certain ways that white people act and speak are “racist” even when they might attest to the fact, that they are not, “racist.”
I have not yet read these books, but I plan to as the over-riding principle I am hearing from commentary from the authors and others is that those of us who live under, “white privilege” must come to truly listen to our black brothers and sisters, must come to understand the fear that comes with each day of their lives in a country that as DiAngelo says, is “fragile” due to its culture that uplifts, “whiteness.” She goes on to say that this “fragility” gives us an “inability to withstand the challenges,” becoming defensive rather than facing this social sin and trying to conquer it, making the changes that are needed, now. And Kendi reminds us that learning, “how to be anti-racist” is not something we do, once and for all, but is on-going and we must do it again and again until equality is achieved.
And my dear friends—the times in which we live have, with each passing day, lifted up the truth of the inequality between the races—truths that have been present for a long time—namely, that too many go to bed hungry every night, too many don’t have adequate shelter and too many are lacking the necessities of a decent life, while at the same time, too much of the good of this world goes to too few at the top and an ever increasing middle class is struggling as well.
As I said, much of the disparity in how people live has been going on for a while, but with a pandemic that has demonstrated that the poor and people of color are hardest hit due to the conditions that our racist culture has allowed for too long, along with an administration in Washington short on compassion and an ability to lead; all of this disparity is now, finally, coming into the bright light of day and we all who claim to be Christian or any follower of any other belief system are being called to finally “see” and do something to make the necessary and needed changes.
As Christians; we look to our Scriptures for answers to live by. The prophet Isaiah, on this 15th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time has this to say and I paraphrase; just as rain and snow water the earth and make it, “fertile and fruitful,” so does the word of God planted in the hearts of the people.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans, talks about what we produce in the world from the heart of God as, “revelation” and that we, along with the, “entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth.”
I do not think that the movement, at present, within our country could be expressed better, than to say, “We are groaning in one great act of giving birth,” in the attempt to set us all truly free! I personally have never, in my lifetime, witnessed a coming together of people, black and white, in the midst of so much suffering, as we are seeing at present and it gives me hope. And as much as our country could really use the strength and comfort of those in charge, and here I speak of those at the helm, both in State (federal level) and Church hierarchy—we are increasingly seeing that this leadership will have to come from us, as individuals and groups, as it is clearly absent in the afore-mentioned entities.
Our brother Jesus heralds the words in today’s gospel, “If you have ears to hear, then—listen!” As you know, today’s gospel speaks of the “sower and the seed” and of how the seed, “the Word of God.” This seed comes to each of us and we, plant it, guard and tend it, or, we leave it untended—ignored. As a result, it cannot grow within, enabling us to change our world.
We, my friends, are all “good ground,” as it were—let us pray that the “good seed” of God’s word falls deep within us, that we tend to it, setting roots that will grow strong, that we each might be that “revelation” to the world that Paul speaks of today. We must say a resounding, “no,” to the racism that spawns poverty, segregation, low standards in education, housing and all the other necessities of a decent life. Let us as a nation become a “revelation” that opens our borders to those oppressed around our world who are merely seeking a better life for their families. Let us be a revelation that all people, regardless of color, culture, class, life-style, gender were created equally by our God and deserve the respect accorded as a result of that truth. Let us as a nation become a revelation to the world—of generosity, goodness, honesty, mercy and love for those (all) that our God has first loved.
The authors that I mentioned in the beginning of this homily speak to the fact that all this needed change in our country puts us in some “uncomfortable” places as we try to address the racism that is a direct result of “white privilege.” Ibram Kendi says that we must sit in the “uncomfortableness” for a while, realizing that people of color “live there” every day of their lives.
As with all the challenges of Ordinary Time, our hope is in our brother Jesus, my friends, as he will give us the strength and fortitude to sit in the “uncomfortableness” until we find a way to a better life for all. Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Be with us, O God.”
- For our community, All Are One, be with us and send your Spirit that we might be always open to anyone coming our way–enable us to welcome all, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
2. For each of us here, for our entire Church, help us to respond with love and care to each and every person we meet, help us to grow more spiritually awake every day to the needs of our wider world and help in all ways that we can, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
- For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body, mind or spirit, be our strength and help, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
4. For our brothers and sisters in our country and around the world who continue to suffer from the ravages of nature—give them your peace and strength, and help all of us to see the connections between how we care for this planet and the weather we must endure if we don’t, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
5. For our world and its people, teach us the ways of peace, help us at every turn to reject the ways of war, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
6. Jesus open our eyes, ears and hearts to be people of justice who daily care about the poor and downtrodden, and all those who suffer for want of daily necessities, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
7. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week—from COVID 19, from racism, from mental illness—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”
***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 ears that hear, eyes that see and hearts that truly love and care for your world and its creatures. Teach us to realize that we must be the change that we yearn for, that we must be anti-racist in our racist culture as one measure. Bless all our attempts at goodness and encourage us when we fail—giving us the strength to try again. All this we ask of you, Jesus, in union with the Creator and Spirit, one God who lives and loves us forever and ever—AMEN.
Let Us Pray—Again, we remember that our brother Jesus walks with us always—lives within us and others. In the absence of the physical bread, let us remember that we do have Jesus within us and are challenged to share him with all others in our life.
Prayer after Communion
Dear Jesus, we have been fed by your Word and we await the time when we can again of the bread and wine— your body and blood with us. Help us to go forth today renewed to carry your message of love to all that we meet. We ask this of you who lives and loves us forever and ever, AMEN.